Winterhawks blow late lead, lose in OT, 4-3

A tough loss for the Winterhawks at the Coliseum Friday night. Leading the Rockets 3-1 with 3:30 left, they gave up goals to Andrew Cristall and Nolan Flamand (with 5.5 seconds left), then Cristall won it with an overtime breakaway.

It was a reversal between their game in Kelowna September 24, where Kelowna was ahead by two goals with 4:30 left, only for the Winterhawks to tie the game and then win it in overtime.

It was not a well-played game at all. Even if Portland had won the storyline would have been them overcoming their sloppiness. They outshot the Rockets 45-29 but Kelowna had more quality thanks to their top line and a lot of Portland careless defensive miscues. Some slightly better play a couple of stretches and the Winterhawks would have won easily.

Portland loses their second in a row and the Rockets stop their 4-game losing streak. They play again in Portland Saturday night.

16:04 POR Marek Alscher (Diego Buttazzoni) 1-0 Caden Price’s clearing pass from behind the slows down at the left boards. Buttazzoni picks it up and feeds Alscher in the slot, who finishes nicely for a defenseman.
30:06 POR (sh) Marcus Nguyen 2-0 The Winterhawks beat the Rockets back up the ice on a Rockets’ power play. It ends up being a 4 on 1. Nguyen keeps it and beats Talyn Boyko from the left wing.
40:33 KEL (pp) Marcus Pacheco (Andrew Cristall, Adam Kydd) 2-1 A really undisciplined penalty by Nguyen leads to a power play goal that gets Kelowna back in the game. Kydd gets a nice cross-ice pass through to Cristall at the left wing. Dante Giannuzzi stops it, but doesn’t pick up the rebound, closest defenseman Ryan McCleary is slow to react, and Pacheco gets there first to beat Giannuzzi short side.
53:49 POR James Stefan (Dawson Pasternak, Marek Alscher) 3-1 Stefan from the right faceoff dot. Didn’t look like a dangerous shot, but Boyko might have been paying more attention to Klassen lurking at the top of the crease.
56:46 KEL Andrew Cristall (Nolan Flamand, John Babcock) 3-2 Flamand tips a Babcock shot on goal. Giannuzzi stops it easily, but again Giannuzzi and McCleary mess up a puck trickling to the side of the goal. This time McCleary takes it away from Giannuzzi and knocks it into the slot to the dangerous Cristall.
59:55 KEL Nolan Flamand (Gabriel Szturc, Caden Price) 3-3 With the goalie pulled, Szturc’s toe drag has Alscher flying by him, giving him a great look from left of the slot. Giannuzzi gets a lot of it but the puck trickles to the back door and Flamand is there to plant it with 5.5 seconds left.
63:20 KEL Andrew Cristall 3-4 On the 3-on-3, Stefan’s shot from the right dot misses badly and takes a huge rebound out to center ice. Cristall was slightly behind the play anyway, and he had the head start to get the puck and go in on a breakaway from center. He made a big move on Giannuzzi, who almost stopped it but the puck got over the line.

Pregame expectations: Mostly the Winterhawks rebounding from a bad loss at Tri-City and handling a Rockets team on a 4-game losing streak.

Most important moment: The Winterhawks fumbling the puck around their own net (for the second time in the game) and giving up the goal to make it 3-2, giving the Rockets the chance to pull the goalie.

Offense vs. Defense: Offense, as it was a pretty-wide open game, but not in a crisp or focused way.

Special teams: A 5-minute slew foot to Kelowna’s Noah Dorey gave Portland a big early opportunity, but they had one of their worst power plays of the season. They got the shorthanded goal later on, but Kelowna’s power play goal to start the 3rd put them on the scoreboard and was very important.

Early: Very sloppy–Dorey’s bad play and Portland’s bad power play were just part of the overall vibe. Portland scrambled a goal through after a turnover, and were marginally better. Giannuzzi bailed Portland out on a few breakdowns.

Middle: Winterhawks had the shot quality, but it took Nguyen’s shorthanded goal to score.

Late: The Winterhawks looked in control, but they were still so sloppy, especially in the neutral zone and at the Kelowna blue line, that it felt like what did happen could happen–Kelowna’s elite scorers pounce on their mistakes. Nguyen had a penalty shot that could have made it 4-1 and ended it but didn’t, and the Rockets turned it around in the last 3-and-a-half minutes.

Stars vs. unsung heroes: Kelowna’s stars in the 3rd. Portland’s top players didn’t do much, only Stefan’s goal.

Old vs. young: Cristall and Pacheco are 17, Flamand 18.

Best team won?: The 45-29 shot totals might be a bit misleading, but the Winterhawks were better until the last few minutes when it all fell apart.

Injuries/suspensions: Colton Dach with the concussion is a big out, and would add to their list of stars.

Top 10 Stat line
Andrew Cristall KEL 2 goals, 1 assist Turned it up in the 3rd and overtime.
Nolan Flamand KEL 1 goal, 1 assist Right place, right time on both goals.
Talyn Boyko KEL 42 saves-45 shots Trailed in the goalie battle for most of the game, but won at the end.
Dante Giannuzzi POR 25 saves-29 shots Numbers for the game and the season are dreadful, but he had a really good game until the last 5 minutes. Faced a lot of tough saves.
Marek Alscher POR 1 goal, 1 assist 2 games in a row with a goal, 3 in a row with a point.
Marcus Pacheco KEL 1 goal Kept the Rockets in it with a power play goal.
Adam Kydd KEL 1 assist A pass through traffic to Cristall set up Kelowna’s 2-1 goal.
Gabriel Szturc KEL 1 assist On the game’s top line with Kydd and Cristall.
Caden Price KEL 1 assist Didn’t have a great game but we’re rapidly running out of candidates.
Diego Buttazzoni POR 1 assist A nice setup to Alscher.
Other notables Stat line
Marcus Nguyen POR 1 goal The 3 stars are what they are, but what a terrible choice for the game’s top star. He took a selfish penalty that got the Rockets back in the game, then had a poor penalty shot that could have iced the game. And you’re going to take him over Cristall? Homer-horrific.
Ryan McCleary POR Two big mistakes leading the Kelowna goals, and a couple of others that didn’t hurt. The 19-year-old NHL draft pick is really struggling.
Noah Dorey KEL Usually a game misconduct that’s not for fighting leads to a one-game suspension, so he might miss Saturday’s game, but we’ll see if a slew foot is looked at as badly as a head hit.
James Stefan POR 1 goal No impact other than the goal.
Jack O’Brien POR 5-game point streak snapped, but did a good job holding Kelowna’s top players until they got away in the 3rd.

Two games in a row characterized by a lot of bad decisions. One of those times in the season where they need a slight reset.

Didn’t find them that impressive overall, but you knew their top line could take over a game and they did. They’re now 4-6-1. When Dach returns that will give them even more star power. They have at least a split in Portland and are playing with house money in Saturday’s rematch.

Saturday vs. Kelowna, 6pm

Wednesday vs. Prince George, 7pm

Friday vs. Seattle, 7pm

next Saturday at Seattle, 6pm

Looking ahead: Friday 11/18 vs. Everett, 7pm

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