KENNEWICK, Wash. - Portland's Ty Rattie scored a short-handed goal at 7:58 of overtime to lead the Winterhawks to a thrilling 5-4 win Saturday over the Tri-City Americans in Western Hockey League playoff action.
The win gives the Winterhawks a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference final.
"It's pretty cool," said Rattie, who had three goals on the night. "Even if it wasn't a hat trick, OT goals are still like hat tricks no matter what.
"It's an exciting win. It's a huge two games and we are looking to take it back to Portland. Tri-City has a high-powered offence, a good defence and a great goalie. We're not going to take them lightly. We are going to play Game 3 like it’s Game 1. We are a confident group and we are looking forward to it."
The series resumes Wednesday with Game 3 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.
"We have had a tough time historically in this building," said Portland coach Mike Johnston, whose team also won the opening game of the series 5-4 in overtime. "This is big. It's really big. It was a very good game all the way around. I thought we had the edge in the play except on special teams. I thought we were the better team 5-on-5."
The Americans, who had a 4-2 lead in the third period, lost their fifth overtime game of the post-season.
"Its a big hole, no doubt," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team is trailing in a series by two games for the first time in the playoffs. "Face the facts, but if you look it from the perspective we could be up 2-0, the belief and will knowing we can come back is there. There is a lot of randomness in hockey.
"It's not like we’ve been standing in our own end and not had opportunities to score in all the overtimes. Sometimes it just doesn't go in."
With Derrick Pouliot in the penalty box for slashing at 6:43 of overtime, the Americans were cycling the puck in Portland's end, but a turnover at the blue-line had Rattie heading up ice and putting the game winner past Tri-City goalie Ty Rimmer.
"Great play and a nice shot coming back on the short side shelf," Hiller said. "Not many goalies probably would have got that one."
The Americans, who led from the start of the game, increased their lead to 4-2 at 4:52 of the third with a goal by Justin Feser, only to see the Winterhawks swoop in and tie the game with a pair of goals in the last 10 minutes of regulation.
Joey Baker scored his first of the playoffs at 9:55, taking a shot by Pouliot and putting the puck past Rimmer to pull Portland within 4-3.
With Tri-City's Nate MacMaster in the penalty box for boarding at 17:13, Rattie picked up a rebound off a shot by Pouliot and found the net for the second time on the night at 18:07 to even the score. Pouliot had the primary assist on all four of Portland’s goals in regulation.
Hiller wasn't sure MacMaster’s penalty was warranted.
"There will be a lot of talk about that one when people get a look at it," Hiller said. "It's always disappointing when you lose, especially the way it happened tonight. I thought maybe the third period was our best period, except for a penalty people can talk about and dissect a little bit, and the goal to tie."
Tri-City had 59 seconds remaining on a power play entering the second period, and took advantage of its opportunity with a goal by Patrick Holland just 46 seconds into the period for a 3-1 lead.
The Winterhawks dominated 5-on-5 play the second, and spent a majority of the period in the Americans' zone. Rimmer made several outstanding saves, but Brad Ross was able to lift the puck into the net at 13:01 to cut Tri-City’s lead to 3-2.
Jordan Messier, who had been held without a goal the first 12 playoff games, finally put one in the net. Taking a pass from behind the net from Brendan Shinnimin, Messier shoved the puck under Mac Carruth’s left pad at 4:27 of the first period to give the Americans a 1-0 lead.
Shinnimin had two assists, running his point streak to 36 games.
Portland got on the board at 13:39 as Rattie scored from the right baseline on a 5-on-3 power play.