PORTLAND, OR- Another fast start by the Portland Winterhawks would hand Edmonton a three-goal deficit early in the second period and the Oil Kings would not recover, falling by a score of 3-1 in game two of the WHL finals.
The Oil Kings were hoping to have a faster start than the one they had in game one on Saturday night, however it was very much the opposite with Portland scoring two goals within the first four minutes of the opening period.
At 2:12 of the first, Chase De Leo scored on a shot from the high slot, through the pads of goaltender Tristan Jarry. He was assisted by Oliver Bjorkstrand.
“Portland is a heck of a hockey club,” Edmonton Head Coach Derek Laxdal said. “They have some high-octane offence and if you want to turn puck over or play in a track-meet game, they’re going to make you pay and we turned the puck early in the game and Tristan would probably like to have the first one back.”
Just 1:02 later, Brendan Leipsic scored in his return from a suspension to give the Winterhawks a 2-0 lead. Mathew Dumba and Paul Bittner had the assists on the goal.
The second period didn’t start off much better for Edmonton as Portland increased their lead to three at 4:32. Nicolas Petan found Bittner on the left wing and he fired a shot from the top of the circle, which redirected off a stick and in short side over the blocker of Jarry. Leipsic added the second assist.
A few minutes later, Jarry stopped Leipsic on a breakaway to keep it a three-goal game. Then again with under five minutes remaining in the second period Jarry made a few exceptional saves. He’d finish the game with 29 saves on 32 shots.
As time expired in the second period, it was Portland’s goalie Corbin Boes’ turn to make a great save. Boes robbed Edmonton’s Curtis Lazar with the glove as the period came to a close.
“The defence did a good job of boxing us out,” Lazar said. “That’s up to us to get down into those dirty areas and find the loose pucks and there’s rebounds available there that are up for the taking but we have to bear down and get to those.”
The Oil Kings broke the shutout with 6:28 left in the game. Ashton Sautner’s shot from the point was tipped in nicely by Henrik Samuelsson from in front of the net. The goal drew Edmonton within two.
In the third, the Oil Kings built a little momentum as they tried to chip away at Portland’s lead.
“We finally started to get pucks in deep, we started to put some pucks on net, we played with a sense of urgency,” Laxdal said. “We have to be on our toes, we can’t be on our heels. When we play on our toes, we are effective.”
That’s as close as Edmonton would get however as the loss puts them down 2-0 in their best-of-seven series. Games three and four are in Edmonton on May 6-7.
“We’re like Portland, we like playing at home,” Laxdal said. “We have a great group of fans in Edmonton. They support us well and obviously, Portland is the same thing. They feed off their fans here… they have great support here and we have to be ready to play. We have a home-ice game here on Tuesday night, it’s our own building, we’re comfortable, we get to sleep in our beds and our goal is to get this series back to 2-1 Tuesday night and go from there.”