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WHL: Carruth, Winterhawks blank Oil Kings, tie series at 1-1

The Canadian Press

5/5/2013 1:11:28 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A night after the Oil Kings shut down Portland in Game 1 of the WHL championship series, the Winterhawks returned the favor in Game 2.

Mac Carruth needed to make just 16 saves to earn his fifth shutout of the post-season, and the Winterhawks clamped down on Edmonton to even the series at a game apiece with a 3-0 victory Saturday.

Ty Rattie's league-leading 16th goal of the playoffs in the first period was all the offence Portland needed, but Brendan Leipsic and Oliver Bjorkstrand added second-period tallies to put the game out of reach.

With the series tied 1-1, Games 3 and 4 come Tuesday and Wednesday at Edmonton's Rexall Place.

"We were good tonight," said Portland acting head coach Travis Green. "Going down two games against this team would've been a really deep hole, so I liked our energy and compete level for the full 60 minutes tonight."

As in Game 1, the Winterhawks controlled play in the first period, but instead of trailing by a goal as they did on Friday, Portland led 1-0 through 20 minutes. On their third power play in the first 10 minutes of the game, the Winterhawks cashed in when Rattie batted in a rolling puck at the 9:09 mark.

The early penalties on the Oil Kings made it difficult for them to establish any sort of rhythm, according to head coach Derek Laxdal.

"The penalties didn't help and we couldn't gain any traction in the game," said Laxdal. "We have to be disciplined. Portland has a lot of skill and if you sit in the box all night they're going to tear you up."

Oil Kings forward Stephane Legault, who had three assists in a 4-1 Edmonton victory in Game 1, said the early penalties zapped his team's energy.

"It's hard for us when we're killing three or four penalties in a period to get everyone rolling and keep momentum," he said.

Portland pushed the lead to 3-0 with two goals 1:25 apart late in the second period. Leipsic skated in from the side wall and beat Edmonton goalie Laurent Brossoit under his left arm to make it 2-0 with 2:40 left, then Bjorkstrand found the top corner from the high slot with 1:15 remaining.

The game remained scoreless the rest of the way, with Edmonton getting just two shots on Carruth in the third period. Portland outshot the Oil Kings 36-16 overall.

"I was able to see pucks well all night," Carruth said of the shutout, which tied him with Brossoit for the league lead this post-season. "Last night they had a few more guys in front of the net."

Green noted the Winterhawks' commitment to blocking shots and "playing both sides of the puck" as keys to the bounce-back win.

"Last night we had a good first period but took our foot off the gas a little," said Green. "In the finals you have to play a complete game and we did that tonight."

Brossoit made 33 saves in defeat, including 14 in the third period, to keep the score relatively close.

The Winterhawks finished 1 for 7 on the power play, while Edmonton was 0 for 3.