The Spokane Chiefs entered Saturday’s third period up 2-1 on the Portland Winterhawks and were 20 minutes away from heading to Portland up 2-0 in their first round playoff series.
But instead of stepping on the gas, it was the Winterhawks who came out blazing. Portland scored four goals in the third period and head home 5-3 winners over the Chiefs.
The teams will meet for Game 3 on Tuesday in Portland with the series tied at 1 apiece.
Josh Paterson scored twice for Portland, and goaltender Joel Hofer made up for a first-period miscue that led to a Spokane goal to make 23 saves in the win.
Bailey Brkin stopped 30 shots in the loss.
Three of Portland’s third-period goals came on the rush with a Spokane player either out of position or making the wrong decision. The fourth was an empty-net goal.
“We didn’t come out (in the third) ready to go. They raised their game and we didn’t,” Adam Beckman said. “It’s kind of one of those things and we have to be a lot better than that.”
First it was Lane Gilliss tying the game at 8:11 of the third. Cordel Larson was behind the play retrieving his stick, leaving the Chiefs shorthanded on the back check.
Paterson scored his second of the game at 9:51 to give Portland its first lead of the night. The Chiefs had just iced the puck, giving Portland an offensive zone face off, and they capitalized.
Mason Mannek squeaked a tough angle shot past Brkin to pad Portland’s lead at 12:37 of the third.
The Chiefs got one back when Beckman scored at 17:26. But Matthew Quigley’s empty-net goal 19 seconds later sealed the win for Portland.
In addition to Beckman, Spokane got goals from Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Luc Smith.
Anderson-Dolan took advantage of a sloppy Hofer turnover behind the net to give Spokane an early lead. Smith took a nice feed from Jack Finley at 13:19 of the second, extending the lead to 2-0.
Spokane was missing defenseman Nolan Reid, who took a stick to the face in Friday’s first period and never returned. Reid is Spokane’s only right-handed defenseman, forcing a shuffle in the lineup and moving some defensemen to their off wing.
“Reid is a big part of our hockey club,” Chiefs head coach Dan Lambert said. “He’s a 20-year-old guy who we rely on in a lot of situations.”
The Chiefs weren’t without their scoring chances. Hofer robbed Anderson-Dolan of a sure goal in the second period when he made a diving glove save while sliding to his left.
Beckman hit a crossbar early in the third period and also had a number of chances but didn’t have an easy angle from which to shoot.
“It’s tough, but that’s how hockey is. There are a lot of ups and downs,” Beckman said. “You just have to keep going and you’ll get the bounces your way.”
After combining for 13 power plays Friday night, neither team committed a penalty Saturday, leaving Spokane’s top-ranked power play without a chance.
“(The officials) could have easily called penalties tonight, they just chose not to,” Lambert said. “That’s the way it is, and who knows, maybe the next game they’ll call 15, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.”
With the series tied at 1, Spokane is guaranteed another home game on Saturday for Game 5. The Chiefs head to Portland for Games 3 and 4 and will need to play better on the road than they did during the regular season.
“I don’t think anybody anticipated we would beat them in four straight. They’re a good hockey club,” Lambert said. “We had some opportunities and we have to make sure we limit theirs. They’re going to create some because they’re a good team. As far as our chances, we have to stick with it and believe in ourselves.”
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