Friday turns Black for Winterhawks; winning streak ends in blowout loss

The Portland Winterhawks 9-game winning streak came to a screeching halt on the road against the Seattle Thunderbirds. The TBirds won 6-1 in a game that might not have even been that close.

Illness reportedly has been running through the Winterhawks’ lineup. They missed players due to the flu on Wednesday in Everett; those players were all back on Friday, but given how lethargic Portland was, it may have still had some effects. The Thunderbirds, now 5 points behind Portland at the top of the conference, for the first time in three matchups looked like the team that are the current favorites to win the conference.

17:14 SEA Nolan Allan (Nico Myatovic, Jeremy Hanzel) 0-1 Allan finally gets the breakthrough goal for Seattle. With a lot of traffic in front of Jan Špunar, Allan is given way to much room around the top of the right circle, and he picks a corner.
38:00 SEA (sh) Kyle Crnkovic (Kevin Korchinski, Reid Schaefer) 0-2 After Portland spent 37 minutes desperately defending, it’s a shorthanded goal that does them in. The Winterhawks don’t get back as a give-and-go between Korchinski and Schaefer in the neutral zone creates a 2-on-1, and Korchinski quickly makes a backhand feed to Crnkovic in front.
39:57 SEA (pp) Nico Myatovic (Nolan Allan, Kyle Crnkovic) 0-3 The inevitable backbreaker came on the power play via a seeing-eye point shot from Myatovic. That finished off Portland’s hope for a flukey win.
42:56 SEA Bryce Pickford (Tij Iginla, Mekai Sanders) 0-4 Seattle’s fifth defenseman walks right around Josh Zakreski beyond the right faceoff circle, no one comes to him, and he beats Špunar from the right circle.
45:09 POR (pp) Gabe Klassen (Jack O’Brien, Robbie Fromm-Delorme) 1-4 Seattle started celebrating a little bit early, and Portland made them pay on the power play. O’Brien from the right boards finds Klassen in front. Second assist currently goes to Luca Cagnoni, but it should be changed to Fromm-Delorme, keeping his and O’Brien’s point streaks going and breaking a goal drought for Klassen.
56:16 SEA Jared Davidson (Kyle Crnkovic, Lucas Ciona) 1-5 Davidson one-times it from the left dot.
57:01 SEA Tij Iginla (Nolan Allan, Coster Dunn) 1-6 Aidan Sotas and Zakreski can’t clear a puck out of the slot, Iginla finds it and beats Špunar.

Pregame: Portland would have been clear underdogs under normal circumstances, and were even more so given the uncertainty of the team’s health. The pregame news was better than expected with O’Brien and Fromm-Delorme back in the lineup and no one out due to illness, apparently.

1st period: The pattern of the first two periods: Portland defending desperately in front of their net and Špunar not giving up rebounds, but the Winterhawks could never get out of their own zone. They went 10 minutes without a shot and finished being outshot 14-4. They defended well enough that it took Seattle 17 minutes to finally score.

2nd period: A repeat of the 1st. Portland could only muster 3 shots. They stayed in it on the scoreboard until late, with the shorthanded goal and then the buzzer-beating power play goal finished it, the way they were playing.

3rd period: Seattle’s intensity dropped after scoring early to make it 4-0, allowing Portland to make the shot difference a lot less embarrassing. With it 4-1 and Portland on the power play with 8 minutes left, they actually pulled Špunar to try to surprise the TBirds, but after a near-Seattle goal and a faceoff in the Portland zone with the element of surprise gone, they abandoned it. Seattle got two late ones in garbage time.

Won on offense, defense, or special teams: Seattle’s offense, with a forecheck that Portland hadn’t seen all seaso.

Best team won?: Yes.

Injuries/suspensions: Injured star Seattle acquisition Luke Prokop will have to wait for his first taste of Seattle-Portland. Even apart from the flu, Portland was missing three regulars/semi-regulars, especially Kyle Chyzowski. That will take some adjustment time that they haven’t had in a glut of games.

Top 10 Stat line
Nolan Allan SEA 1 goal, 2 assists First 3 points as a Thunderbird for the Blackhawks’ 1st-rounder.
Kyle Crnkovic SEA 1 goal, 2 assists Goals in 3 straight games.
Kevin Korchinski SEA 1 assist Snuffed out most of Portland’s hope by creating the shorthanded goal.
Jared Davidson SEA 1 goal Had missed the first two games against the Winterhawks.
Nico Myatovic SEA 1 goal, 1 assist His point shot finished off any Portland hope.
Thomas Milic SEA 20 saves-21 shots Not much to do until the 3rd period.
Reid Schaefer SEA 1 assist
Bryce Pickford SEA 1 goal Showed some nice skills for his first goal of the season.
Lucas Ciona SEA 1 assist
Tij Iginla SEA 1 goal, 1 assist
Other notables
Jan Špunar POR 29 saves-35 shots Portland’s best player; played well in the first 38 minutes. Wasn’t great after that; had chances to stop most of Seattle’s goals.
Robbie Fromm-Delorme POR 1 assist It will take a scoring change to get him that assist and give him a 7-game point streak.
Gabe Klassen POR 1 goal Broke a 4-game goalscoring drought.
Jack O’Brien POR 1 assist Point streak goes up to 9.
Winterhawks Thunderbirds
Record 17-2-1-1 15-3-1
Goal difference +29 +36
Goals/game 4.5 4.6
Goals allowed/game 3.1 2.7
Power play 30.7% 19.3%
Penalty kill 81.6% 79.1%
Power plays for/game 4.2 4.6
Power plays against/game 4.1 4.8
Outshooting opponents 20-1-0 14-4-1
After 1 period 11-5-5 9-6-4
After 2 periods 13-3-5 12-5-2
Score, last 10 games 47-28 33-26
Score, last 20 games 91-65 87-53

Portland Winterhawks

They had outshot their opponents in all 20 games of the season. That went away very quickly.

The worst game they’ve played all season, worse than the Tri-City ambush where they gave up 5 goals in the 1st period and held a team meeting at intermission. Injuries and illness might be valid excuses; we won’t know for sure for a week or more.

Seattle Thunderbirds

Despite trailing Portland by some in the standings, they’re the clear favorites to win the division and the conference, pending the potential trades of other teams. They didn’t have Davidson and Allan when they played Portland previously.

Sunday at Vancouver, 2pm

Wednesday vs. Seattle, 7pm

Friday vs. Victoria, 7pm

next Saturday at Everett, 6pm

Looking ahead: Saturday 12/10 vs. Seattle, 6pm (Teddy Bear Toss)

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