VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Spokane Chiefs entered Pacific Coliseum on Saturday night with their backs against the wall.
On top of giving up seven goals in their series-opening loss against Vancouver on Friday, they also had to go into Game 2 without star defenseman Brenden Kichton, who was sidelined indefinitely by a jaw injury sustained in the third period of Game 1.
In the end, the Chiefs again fell to the Giants 7-3 on Saturday. Vancouver now leads the series 2-0.
“It was a hard-fought game and they came out with a lot of energy,” Chiefs forward Mitch Holmberg said. “We’ve got to find a way to put more pucks in the net.”
The absence of Kichton was apparent as the Giants dominated the puck early on.
Midway through the first, on a power play, the Giants’ Neil Manning scored off a pinpoint feed from Jordan Martinook.
Two minutes later, Cain Franson, who had a hat trick in Game 1, set up Martinook for a wrist-shot goal.
Throughout the first two periods, the Chiefs struggled to catch a rhythm on offense. Despite a strong third-period performance in Game 1, where it outscored Vancouver 3-2, Spokane was sloppy and predictable with their passes and couldn’t capitalize on a series of power-play opportunities.
It wasn’t all Spokane’s fault. Giants goalie Adam Morrison was spectacular through the game’s first two periods, making the most difficult saves look routine. Even when the Giants were outmanned by two, Spokane was unable to get the puck past Morrison, who stopped 38 shots.
“Well, I thought their goalie made the saves when the game was on the line,” Nachbaur said. “We had the chances.”
With the Chiefs looking sluggish and defeated, Vancouver continued to extend its lead in the tail end of the second period with a trio of goals – two from Marek Tvrdon and one from Brendan Gallagher. After Tvrdon scored at the 16:29 mark, Nachbaur replaced goalie Mac Engel with Eric Williams. Engel has given up 12 goals in the series’ first two contests.
Just like Game 1, the Chiefs came out of the second intermission playing like a team with a sense of urgency. First, Steven Kuhn scored a power-play goal – his second of the playoffs – and was assisted by Mike Aviani and Davis Vandane. A few minutes later, on another power play, Holmberg scored on a two-on-one break on an assist from Aviani. The Chiefs were 2 for 6 on the night for power plays.
But a rebound goal from the Giants’ Manning at the 8:07 mark put a halt to Spokane’s run.
In the following minutes, both teams traded goals. Holmberg scored with a put-back shot for Spokane, while the Giants’ Gallagher scored his second of the night.
Nachbaur said the team is still waiting to hear on Kichton’s status.
“He’s still getting evaluated,” Nachbaur said.