PORTLAND — On Sunday morning Ty Rattie wasn’t sure he’d be able to play in Game 3 of the Western Hockey League finals because of an undisclosed injury. Sunday evening, as the final seconds ticked off the Rose Garden clock, Rattie was sprawled on the ice taking jabs from several Edmonton Oil Kings who were desperate to get at the puck.
In between, Rattie wrote his name into the Portland Winterhawks record book and helped his team grab a lead in the finals series with a tense 4-3 win that entertained 10,947 fans.
The win gives the Winterhawks a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 championship series. Game 4 is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Rose Garden.
“It was a couple of games within a game,” Portland coach Mike Johnston said after a wild ride that saw his team build a 3-0 lead and then hang on for the victory.
Three goals in an eight-minute span of the second period had Portland and its fans jumping. And it all started with a Sven Bartschi special.
Rattie — who sat out Game 2 with an injury — challenged Edmonton defenseman Martin Gernat along the wall. Bartschi scooped up the puck and raced in to deliver a spectacular spinning back-hander that beat Edmonton goalie Laurent Brossoit’s glove for a 1-0 Portland lead 4:53 into period two.
Rattie ranked the goal among Bartschi’s five best, but he wasn’t surprised to see it.
“It’s almost expected on a game by game basis,” Rattie said. “When he scored goals like that it’s almost ‘Well, there’s another one.'”
Just over seven minutes later, it was Rattie adding a special goal to his list. He scored from in tight off a feed from Joe Morrow with the Winterhawks on a power play. It was his 29th career playoff goal — a new Winterhawks franchise record.
And he scored it while being slashed by Edmonton’s Travis Ewanyk, drawing an additional power play during which Oliver Gabriel beat Brossoit through the pads on a rush to make it 3-zip with 7:25 remaining in the second period.
“Anytime you can get goals back to back like that it sort of sets the other team back on their heels and gives you some momentum.” Johnston said. “Especially if you’re scoring on the power play.”
As powerful as the Winterhawks were in the second period — outshooting the visitors 14-5 — Edmonton was more dangerous in the third period.
The Oil Kings surge started when Henrik Samuelsson scored a power-play goal 20 seconds in to the third. Gernat and Keegan Lowe scored goals as Edmonton’s defensemen became more active.
“In Game 2 those shots seemed to find me, Tonight they seamed to just go right by my ear,” said Portland goalie Mac Carruth, who made 20 of his 34 saves during the third period. “That’s hockey sometimes. They’re going to have great shots and you’ve got to tip your hat to that.”
Carruth’s serenity late was a contrast to the first period, when some aggressive play in the crease irritated Carruth enough that the goalie took one penalty.
“I knew going into this series that they were going to try to get me off my game by running into me,” Carruth said. “I just let it get to me in the first a little bit.”
The feisty play in around Carruth also produced simultaneous fights 12:21 into the match, one between Morrow and Lowe and another Portland’s Brad Ross and Edmonton’s Jordan Peddle. Ross and Peddle drew game misconduct penalties for being the second fight.
At this stage of the season, success often goes to the team that limits mistakes. On Sunday, one glaring one from Edmonton proved critical.
A giveaway behind the Edmonton net turned into the decisive blow. Portland’s Cam Reid intercepted an attempted pass around the boards and fed Brendan Leipsic for a can’t-miss finish that made the score 4-1. Edmonton owned much of the remaining 15:23, but came up one goal shot thanks to come composed play from Carruth. The Oil Kings flooded the Carruth’s crease with bodies several times down the stretch but failed to beat the goalie.
“You’ve got to play the percentages,” Carruth said. “There are guys in front, our guys are trying to block shots and they’re guys are trying to get pucks through. They got a couple of pucks through. I was lucky enough to control the rebound to the side there and cover it up on one of them.”
Covering the puck was what Rattie was doing as the final seconds ticked away. Edmonton had pulled Brossoit for a sixth attacker in the final minute, but thanks to some aggressive neutral zone checking by the Winterhawks the puck was behind the Oil King’s defensive net inside the final 10 seconds. Rattie went to the ice to keep the puck from coming free.
Rattie was fine with taking a few whacks to the helmet.
“They’re battling for the last goal. I don’t know what I was thinking, I should have just stood up and did it,” Rattie said. “It’s playoffs. I’m going to do whatever it takes to win. I’ll take a couple of sticks to the face if it means we get a win.”