EDMONTON, Alta. — The Edmonton Oil Kings watched two three-goal leads slip away as the Portland Winterhawks battled back to win 6-5 in overtime and force a Game 7 in the WHL final.
“It’s the old story,” Edmonton head coach Derek Laxdal said. “You’ve got to play 60 minutes and we probably played 35 and had a lead going into the third. I thought we sat back a little bit and Portland pushed on.”
A strong opening period gave the Oil Kings the early lead. With Nicolas Petan in the box for hooking, Griffin Reinhart fed Dysin Mayo with a cross-ice pass and he shot the puck on net. Henrik Samuelsson was on the doorstep to poke the loose puck through the pads of Corbin Boes for the power play goal.
Just a few moments later, Samuelsson would net his second goal of the night to push the Oil Kings’ lead to 2-0. Mitch Moroz stripped Portland defenceman Mathew Dumba of the puck along the boards and passed it to Samuelsson across the face of Boes. Samuelsson sniped a shot just inside the post and past the goaltender for the two-goal lead.
The surging Oil Kings took a three-goal lead at 19:09 of the first period. Edgars Kulda fired a shot on net from the high slot and it found its way through traffic and behind Boes. Ashton Sautner chipped in the assist.
After surrendering three goals on ten shots in the first period, Boes was pulled and replaced by Brendan Burke for the start of the second.
Portland got on the board courtesy of a 5-on-3 power play at 3:25 of the second period. Derrick Pouliot set up Dumba for a one-timer and the Portland defenceman buried it to pull his team within two.
Edmonton goaltender Tristan Jarry robbed Chase De Leo on a breakaway attempt with about 12 minutes to go in that period, keeping his team ahead 3-1.
Portland cut the lead to 3-2 when Anton Cederholm scored at 13:12 of the middle frame.
The Oil Kings responded quickly courtesy of a Portland turnover in their defensive zone. The puck came off a Winterhawks player’s stick and was picked up by Reid Petryk. The Oil King walked in on net and found Curtis Lazar backdoor with a backhand pass. Lazar buried it for the 4-2 lead at 13:57.
At 14:46 of the second, Edmonton increased their lead again, this time with a breakaway goal. With Portland’s Brendan Leipsic and Edmonton’s Riley Keiser both in the penalty box for roughing, Mayo fired a long-range pass to Kulda, springing him loose on a breakaway. Kulda put a move on Burke before sinking his second goal of the night and giving Edmonton the 5-2 lead.
“We got the lead and maybe were a little bit too comfortable,” Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart said. “We kind of played not to lose rather than play to win and I think that ended up costing us and it’s a tough loss today. Tomorrow is a new day and we’ve just got to bounce back.”
Dumba gave Portland hope in the opening minutes of the third period. Dumba’s shot on the power play at 2:57 of the final frame found twine and the Winterhawks trailed 5-3.
The Winterhawks’ comeback bid continued when Keoni Texeira whacked at the puck under Jarry’s pad until it leaked through for the goal. It looked like Jarry had froze the puck under his pad but no whistle was blown and Texeira pulled Portland within one at 6:09.
“The third period rolled around and they came at us,” Lazar said. “They had nothing to lose and they showed that. We need to press that reset button here and get ready for tomorrow night. It’s going to be a heck of a hockey game.”
With 8:46 to go in the game, Portland tied things up courtesy of Pouliot. The Winterhawk fired a shot from the face-off dot to make it a 5-5 game. That goal would send it to overtime.
The Winterhawks scored their fourth-straight goal, this time for the win, at 7:23 of the overtime period. Keegan Iverson scored the game-winning goal and the series will shift back to Portland for Game 7 tomorrow night.
“It is what it is and right now it’s tied 3-3 and we’re going back to Portland for Game 7,” Laxdal said. “The mindset for our kids is it didn’t look very good coming back from Portland down 2-0. Going back there for Game 7, we’ll take it. We had a chance to close it out tonight and now we’ve got to focus on tomorrow’s game and we can’t worry about what happened tonight.”
Game 7 is a 8 p.m. MT start, with the game available on TSN 1260 radio and SHAW TV.