Winterhawks blank Chiefs
The third game in five nights between Spokane and Portland drew an outbreak of penalties and one team that used the situation to its advantage.
Ty Rattie, Nicolas Petan and Brendan Leipsic scored power-play goals Friday night as the Portland Winterhawks pinned the first shutout of the Western Hockey League season on the Spokane Chiefs, 3-0 at the Arena.
The Winterhawks (38-7-1-2) finished 3 for 7 on the power play while snapping a four-game losing streak, including a Monday home setback and Wednesday’s shootout loss at Spokane.
The Chiefs (30-17-2-0) were 0 for 7 on the power play and are 1 for 25 in their last five games.
“The coach can tell the guys where to go and what to do (on the power play) and then it’s up to the players to decipher how hard and how competitive they want to be,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said.
“The key to the power play is moving the puck quickly and winning battles and we didn’t do either.”
“We work on our power play at lot,” said Rattie, who scored at 10 minutes, 29 seconds of the first period and assisted on Petan’s goal about 7 minutes later. “We worked on it (Thursday) in practice and (coach Travis Green) did a great job getting us ready on it.”
Spokane’s Mike Aviani drew three first-period penalties, two of which led to the scores.
“You can’t take three penalties as a veteran player against a good team like that,” Nachbaur said.
Portland had five power-play chances in the first period and Spokane had five in the second.
Portland goalie Mac Carruth stood up to every Chiefs attempt, including Mitch Holmberg’s breakaway late in the first period and Riley Whittingham’s penalty shot early in the third.
Carruth, Portland’s career leader with 108 wins, had 36 saves and posted his fifth shutout of the season.
Eric Williams, who turned back the Winterhawks on Monday and Wednesday, had 34 saves.
Petan’s goal was his 32nd, tied for second place in the WHL with three other players, behind the 33 of Spokane’s Todd Fiddler. Petan also leads the league with 83 points.
Leipsic’s goal at 14:01 of the final period was his 31st. He’s second in the league with 78 points.
“We caught no breaks, but we didn’t work for breaks,” Nachbaur said. “We hit the crossbar and a couple of goalposts. … We had Mitch Holmberg all alone and a penalty shot and nothing. Nothing.”
Portland leads the season series 4-1-0-1. The teams’ three remaining regular-season games will be in Portland.
The Chiefs will complete their stretch of seven games in 11 days tonight against the Medicine Hat Tigers (24-23-2-1), who are 8-15-2-1 on the road. Medicine Hat hasn’t played in Spokane since Dec. 3, 2010, a 3-2 Chiefs win in overtime.