Updated Nov 25, 2012 - 9:03 am
T-Birds blown out by Portland 8-2
Nic Petan knocks home Portland's second goal of the game (photo Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
KENT, Wash - The Portland Winterhawks skated into the ShoWare Center Saturday night and dictated the play from the out-set on their way to an 8-2 blow out. Portland's Troy Rutkowski scored 30 seconds into the game and the Winterhawks never looked back. Portland (20-4-1-0) got two goals a piece from Oliver Bjorkstrand and Brendan Leipsic and built a 6-0 lead before Seattle (11-12-1-0) got on the board with a Connor Honey goal in the third period.
Seattle played a little better in the third but it was too little too late as Portland was in coast-mode and wrapped up their third straight win against the T-Birds. It was a period that saw Seattle score two goals and out-shoot Portland.
"I think we gave a little too much respect," Captain Luke Lockhart said afterwards. "As you saw in the third period we came out and started banging and playing like we had nothing to lose and that's how we can take over teams. We have to re-focus and play that way all game."
Unfortunately for the T-Birds the game was out of reach by that time. Portland came out of the gates hot, scored the early goal by Rutkowski on a shot that deflected off of a Seattle defender in front. Only 30 seconds into the game the goal seemed to set the tone for the rest of the period and game. Portland out-shot Seattle 17-5 in that first period after the goal and seemed to do what they wanted.
"I'm not going to say that (the first goal) is the reason we lost," Lockhart said. "It's a little frustrating but we have to move past that and re-focus and treat it like a zero-zero game and keep going."
Portland ended any suspense in the second period when they scored four times on goals by Brendan Leipsic, Nic Petan, Chase De Leo and Oliver Bjorkstrand. After 40 minutes of hockey Portland had a comfortable 6-0 lead and had their two points wrapped up.
"It's disappointing," Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk said. "I really thought we were ready to play to start the game, before in the locker room the guys were serious, then they get out there and we don't skate against a fast team. They'd played better than us, they're a fast team with a good lineup but we have to give our selves a chance. I know they were focused before but we had that deer in the headlights look again."
Seattle had been playing good hockey in the past few weeks, even in games they lost. This game marked the third straight against Portland that ended in a lop-sided score. Konowalchuk wants this team to believe that they can compete with the league's best, which Portland is, but Saturday night it seemed that they still have a way to go to beat the Winterhawks.
"There's some upset guys there," Konowalchuk said of his team. "We've got some good leaders on the team and I thought there were a few guys that didn't shrink as players. There were a few guys that continued to play their same game but I think we had probably half the team that tightened up and stood around and watched a lot."
Seattle's two goals came in the third period as Connor Honey scored his ninth goal 16 seconds in and later Luke Lockhart notched his team-leading 11th goal of the season. Seattle has a chance to get back out on the ice and erase the bad taste from this game Tuesday as they take on the Everett Silvertips at the ShoWare Center.
"It's one of those games where you really want to just put it behind you," Lockhart said. "You almost wish you played the next day, we have a couple days of practice to get ready for Tuesday."
The T-Birds have shown that they can bounce back from tough losses this season. This one was as tough as any and Tuesday's effort against Everett should be interesting to watch.
"We'll address it, see where we are at and we have to get back to the way we were playing," Konowalchuk said.
After beating Portland on opening night by a 5-2 score the T-Birds have lost three straight to the Winterhawks and have been out-scored 20-5.
Konowalchuk mentioned that some players on the team were still playing hard. Most notable among those was Riley Sheen. He was throwing his body around and playing tough hockey all game long, even after the score was out of reach.
Goalie Brandon Glover started the game for Seattle but was replaced by Justin Myles after the fourth Portland goal. Both goalies faced 20 shots and allowed four goals.
The T-Birds have shown they can bounce back. After their last loss to Portland (6-1) they then hit the ice to win two straight by beating Tri-City and Everett.
Check back to 710 ESPN Seattle later tonight for a full recap along with reaction from Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk and captain Luke Lockhart.
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