Early power player destroy Thunderbirds' chances
KENT — Seattle still leads its best-of-seven series with the Kelowna Rockets three games to one, but after the 4-0 defeat Wednesday night at home, Thunderbirds coach Steve Konowalchuk said his team still is a big underdog.
Kelowna scored three power-play goals in the first period and Seattle was never able to recover in a game far different from the 3-2 overtime victory the T-birds scored Tuesday.
“We’re still big underdogs,” Konowalchuk said, even though his team can close out the series with a victory in Kelowna on Saturday. “That team is the one with all the skill and points in the regular season.”
The Rockets finished the regular season with 52 victories and 108 points. The Thunderbirds had 24 wins and 58 points, 50 fewer than Kelowna.
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And even though Seattle leads the series 3-1, Kelowna now has outscored Seattle 11-10 in the series.
Any momentum Seattle held from its overtime victory Tuesday in front of 6,021 spectators was quickly wiped out Wednesday in a sea of penalties in front of a subdued gathering of 2,559.
Tyson Baillie scored twice, the first on a five-on-three opportunity and then again just more than a minute later with the Rockets still on the power play, and the tone was indelibly set.
Myles Bell added a third first-period power-play goal, with an assist from Baillie, as the Rockets had seven power-play opportunities before the game was half over.
Zach Franko rounded out the scoring for Kelowna with an unassisted goal at 13:36 of the third period.
“We were undisciplined and they capitalized,” Konowalchuk said. “We weren’t as aggressive because we took too many penalties and they executed well. When you take that many penalties, you can’t establish any momentum.”
Jordon Cooke made 25 saves to get the shutout for the Rockets.
The penalties evened up later in the game with Seattle scoreless on eight power-play chances.
“It’s the playoffs; there’s nerves and everything,” Cooke said. “It’s not really an excuse, but tonight we found a way to win and now we’re starting to dig ourselves out of the hole.”
Seattle captain Luke Lockhart said his team wants to end the series in Kelowna on Saturday. If not, it’s back to Kent for Game 6 on Tuesday.
“We let ourselves go with penalties and it cost us the game,” Lockhart said. “We’re still up in the series 3-1 so we’re going to go up to Kelowna and close it out right there.”
at Everett 3
The Winterhawks took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with four second-period goals and a 30-13 advantage in shots.
Nicolas Petan had two goals and two assists for Portland, which bounced back with five consecutive goals after Everett took a 1-0 lead.
Dawson Leedahl opened the scoring for the Silvertips less than four minutes into the game, and scored again in the third period when Portland was up 5-2.
Joshua Winquist also scored for Everett, and added an assist.
Troy Rutkowski, Ty Rattie, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Brendan Leipsic and Derrick Pouliot scored for the Winterhawks.
The series continues Friday at 7:35 p.m. in Everett.