PORTLAND — The script was different. The third chapter was familiar to the Portland Winterhawks.
For the second time in as many nights, the Winterhawks dominated the third period to storm past the Kamloops Blazers 4-1.
Sven Bartschi scored two goals, and Taylor Leier and Cam Reid scored 19 seconds apart early in the third period as the Winterhawks beat the Blazers in front of 6,445 at Memorial Coliseum.
The result gives the Winterhawks a 2-0 lead in this best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal series. Games 3 and 4 are on Tuesday and Wednesday at Kamloops. Game 5 would be at the Rose Garden next Saturday, April 14, if necessary.
This game was scoreless until Portland put up three in a span of two minutes.
The first came with 46 seconds left in the second period. Bartschi redirected a Marcel Noebels shot past Kamloops goalie Cam Lanigan. The goal on just the 21st shot of the game for Portland, a number well below the team’s target of 20 shots a period.
Before the third period was two minutes old, the Portland lead was 3-0.
Leier made it 2-0 by pouncing on a rebound when Lanigan made a kick save on a Troy Rutkowski shot. With much of the goal to shoot at, Leier didn’t miss.
With the crowd still celebrating that goal, Reid got to the back post to slam home a Brad Ross offering.
But the most important goal might have been Bartschi’s second, which came while the Winterhawks were on a five-on-three power play and made the score 4-1 with 7:12 left in the game.
“Those goals early in the third were really critical, and then I thought the most important goal of the game was the five-on-three,” Portland head coach Mike Johnston said. “We had to score on that five-on-three.”
Once Portland built its lead, the game turned into an old-fashioned test of manhood. The Blazers’ seemed to target Ty Rattie, hitting the WHL’s top scorer of this postseason and drawing several penalties in the process.
“I think it’s a bit of a compliment,” Rattie said. “I think if they’re going to come after me like that, knowing that they want to take me out, I’ve just got to pass it around, got to use my teammates and move my feet. And if I get to score some goals it’s going to feel that much better.”
Leading 2-0 in the series feels pretty nice, too.
Portland played without center Oliver Gabriel on Saturday. Gabriel was suspended indefinitely by the WHL for his collision with Kamloops goalie Cole Cheveldave late in Friday’s game. Cheveldave did not play Saturday, reportedly because of a concussion suffered on the Gabriel play. Gabriel was penalized at the time. After Friday’s game, Johnston said Gabriel anticipated Cheveldave moving the opposite direction and was unable to avoid the collision when the goalie instead moved into Gabriel’s path.