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

NHL.com @NHL

CALGARY - After scoring twice to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 5-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen, Mikael Backlund was quick to praise the work of his teammates.

"Everybody was working hard and our goalie was playing unbelievable," said Backlund referring to Mark Guggenberger, who stopped 27 of 29 shots he faced.

"It was a great team effort."

The Rockets also won 3-1 on Friday night and now hold a 2-0 lead over the Hitmen with Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-seven Western Hockey League final set for Kelowna, B.C., on Monday and Wednesday.

"The unfortunate thing is they took the play to us (in the third period)," said Hitmen coach Dave Lowry. "They elevated it and they got a little bit of momentum and they capitalized on their chances. We didn't have enough to push back, but it takes four (games)to win."

While he scored a pair of third period goals to break the game open, Backlund said he didn't think he played one of his best games. He instead pointed to the effort of Evan Bloodoff, who finished the contest with a goal and two assists.

"I was awful today, so it's not about the goals," said the Swedish forward, a first round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2007 National Hockey League draft.

Kelowna coach Ryan Huska also praised the play of Evan Bloodoff, whose older brother Lucas added a pair of assists.

"This is probably his best game that he's played for our hockey team in three years," Huska said.

"He's got great speed. Our challenge to Evan is to get him to use it all the time. There aren't a lot of defencemen in our league that can handle his wide speed. He skates so well.

"He was a big difference for us tonight."

Twice in the third period, Bloodoff drove hard and directed shots towards the Hitmen net that resulted in goals.

Ian Duval knocked the first rebound past Hitmen goalie Martin Jones, while Backlund followed up the play a short time later and roofed another rebound into the Calgary net.

"It gives me a lot more confidence than what I had before," said Bloodoff, who also commended Guggenberger for keeping the Rockets in the game.

"We knew we had to help him out by getting a couple goals."

Duval finished the game with a goal and an assist and Colin Long scored into an empty net. Tyler Myers chipped in with a pair of assists.

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

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