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Niederreiter has three points as Portland stays alive with 5-4 win over Giants

NHL.com @NHL

VANCOUVER, B.C. - Nino Niederreiter scored twice and added an assist as the Portland Winterhawks avoided elimination from the Western Hockey League playoffs with a 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Giants on Saturday night.

Portland will host Game 6 on Tuesday. If necessary, Game 7 will also be held there on Thursday. Tomas Vincour led Vancouver with two goals while Kevin Connauton and Craig Cunningham also scored for the Giants.

Luke Walker, Ryan Johansen and Stefan Schneider added singles as the Winterhawks reduced Vancouver's lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series to 3-2.

Portland took two of three games in Vancouver to regain home-ice advantage for the rest of the series.

The Winterhawks outshot Vancouver 40-39 after the clubs combined for 60 shots in the first two periods alone.

Vancouver was 2-for-7 on the power play, while Portland went 1-for-2.

Portland general manager and coach Mike Johnston made a goaltending change, electing to start Mac Carruth, who served as the backup the past two games after being pulled in both Games 1 and 2 in Portland.

The decision appeared to pay off as Portland led 2-0 after the first and 3-0 early in the second. But the Giants scored three goals - two on the power play - a minute and 53 seconds apart in the middle frame and Portland led just 4-3 after 40 minutes.

Niederreiter, ranked 12th by NHL Central Scouting in advance of this summer's draft, opened the scoring on a power play 11:29 into the game as he fired in his own rebound from the slot.

He scored again about seven minutes later, putting the puck into an open net after Eric Doyle deked out Vancouver goaltender Mark Segal but could not tuck the puck across the goal line and the disc came out front.

Walker increased Portland's lead to 3-0 at 2:22 of the second period as he put in a long Chris Francis rebound while crashing into the net.

Vincour's first goal started the Vancouver comeback midway through the second after he and Milan Kytnar forced a turnover behind the Portland net. Kytnar sent a pass to him in front and he beat Carruth high.

Just 47 seconds later, Connauton reduced Vancouver's deficit to 3-2 on a blast from the point.

Then, standing in the slot during another power play, Vincour redirected Neil Manning's pass from the point over a kneeling Carruth to create a 3-3 tie by the 13:14 mark.

But Francis gave the Winterhawks a 4-3 lead only a minute and three seconds later.

Schneider increased Portland's advantage to 5-3 on a wraparound at 4:52 of the third period. The goal was allowed to stand after a video review.

Cunningham brought the Giants within a goal midway through the final frame as Carruth cleared the puck out from behind the net and could not get back to block the Vancouver centre's shot in time. But the Portland goalie shut the door the rest of the way.

The winner of this series will advance to the Western Conference finals against the Tri-City Americans, who ousted the 2009 WHL champion Kelowna Rockets in five games.

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