EDMONTON, AB- Curtis Lazar put the Oil Kings up by two in the third period and they would hold on to defeat the Portland Winterhawks 2-0, tying the WHL final series at two.
For the first time in this series, the Edmonton Oil Kings did not allow a goal within the first three minutes of the opening period. In fact, the entire first period went by without a goal by either team however both had quality scoring chances. Edmonton would outshoot Portland 14-13 in the opening 20 minutes.
“I thought we came out the way we wanted to again," Oil Kings forward Mitch Moroz said. "We had some chances early and didn’t capitalize but we just kept working away. We didn’t give up those first-period goals, which is nice not to have to battle back."
With under five minutes remaining in the first, Edmonton goalie Tristan Jarry made a few big saves with pressure in his face to keep the game scoreless.
Portland’s Anton Cederholm took high-sticking penalty with his shot to Mads Eller with 32 seconds left in the opening frame, giving the Oil Kings their first power play of the night. They nearly scored with an opportunity as time expired to signal the first intermission but couldn’t poke the puck past Corbin Boes.
The second period would result in the Oil Kings taking the lead while outshooting the Winterhawks by a 14-5 margin.
Mitch Moroz put Edmonton on the board first at 8:40 of the second period. A heavy shot by Dysin Mayo missed the net but banked off the wall and on top of the Portland net. The puck bounced off of the top of the net and fell beside the post where Moroz was in perfect position to slip it in behind Boes.
After taking a checking-from-behind penalty midway through the second period, Portland’s Brendan Leipsic was given a charging penalty for his hit on Luke Bertolucci along the boards less than four minutes later. The Oil Kings couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing power play.
Leipsic would give the Oil Kings another chance at the man advantage with a high-sticking penalty at 19:31 of the middle frame. That penalty would carry over into the third and turn into a 5-on-3 with a delay-of-game call 21 seconds in. However, the Oilers could not convert as they clung to their one-goal lead.
Lazar scored his first goal of the series at 6:17 of the final period to increase that lead. Brett Pollock found Lazar with a hard pass on a rush and Lazar tipped the puck past Boes to push Edmonton’s lead to 2-0.
Lazar was stopped on a breakaway attempt a few minutes later as he began to heat up for Edmonton.
As it turned out, the Oil Kings would not need that goal or any other as they shutdown Portland the rest of the way. Jarry made 26 saves in the shutout. The Oil Kings ended Portland's streak of games with at least one goal, regular season or otherwise, at 247.
The series, tied 2-2, returns to Portland for game five on Friday night.
“We have to continue to have guys step up for us to be successful as Portland does," Edmonton Head Coach Derek Laxdal said. "Their guys have to step up and the same thing. For us, the first four games are done, we’re tied 2-2, we’re looking forward to playing game five. It’s a best of three, Portland has home ice, we have to win one in Portland plain and simple.”