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Backlund scores twice as Rockets defeat Hitmen to take 2-0 series lead

NHL.com @NHL

CALGARY - Mikael Backlund scored twice, while Evan Bloodoff had a goal and two assists to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 5-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen in Game 2 of the Western Hockey League final on Saturday.

The Rockets also won 3-1 on Friday night and now hold a 2-0 lead over the Hitmen in the battle for the Ed Chynowth Cup with the third and fourth games of the series slated to take place in Kelowna, B.C., on Monday and Wednesday nights.

Former Hitmen forward Ian Duval notched a goal and an assist for the Rockets, Colin Long scored into an empty net, while Tyler Myers and Lucas Bloodoff each chipped in with a pair of assists. Kelowna goalie Mark Guggenberger continued his strong play as he stopped 27 of 29 shots to improve to 14-4 in the playoffs.

Tomas Karpov and Keith Seabrook replied for the Hitmen, while Ian Schultz had a pair of helpers. After winning his first 12 starts of the post-season, Calgary goalie Martin Jones made 22 saves as he lost his second straight game.

The Rockets and Hitmen battled to a scoreless draw through the first period with each team firing six shots on net. While the shots were low, the hit totals were high. On one shift, Hitmen defenceman Michael Stone knocked Kelowna's Ryley Grantham to the ice with a heavy hit in the defensive zone, before crushing Lucas Bloodoof with another heavy hit in the neutral zone.

For the second straight game, Seabrook laid a thunderous check on Jamie Benn, this time knocking Kelowna's leading scorer out of the contest with a heavy hit behind the Calgary net in the first period.

At 2:45 of the second period, Karpov one-timed a pass from Schultz past Guggenberger before Evan Bloodoff tapped a feed from Duval past Jones to tie the game just over 10 minutes later.

Early in the third, Duval snuck a rebound into the corner of the net past Jones before Backlund scored a pair of goals five minutes apart to put Kelowna up 4-1.

After Seabrook wristed a point shot past a screened Guggenberger to pull the Hitmen within a pair, Long put the game away with an empty-net goal to disappoint the majority of the 11,879 fans in attendance at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

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