Oil Kings spoil the Baertschi show in WHL playoff
Edmonton defeats Portland in overtime
By Chris O'Leary, Edmonton Journal
May 9, 2012
Portland goaltender Mac Carruth blocks a shot as Edmonton’s Curtis Lazar tries to snare the rebound in WHL playoff action at the Rose Garden on Tuesday night. The Oil Kings defeated the Winterhawks 4-3 in overtime to tie the WHL final at 2-2.
Photograph by: Doug Beghtel John Lucas , LC- The Oregonian
The Edmonton Oil Kings went into the Western Hockey League final as a team that hadn’t faced much adversity. Bouncing back from a gut-wrenching two-game stretch against the Portland Winterhawks, the Oil Kings can start to add battle-tested to their still-growing resume.
Playing without suspended forward Henrik Samuelsson, the Oil Kings survived a monstrous two-goal third period rally from Portland’s Sven Baertschi, a Calgary Flames prospect, and ventured into their first overtime game of the playoffs.
Rhett Rachinski’s wrist shot from the left wing at 9:07 of the extra frame saved Edmonton’s season with a 4-3 win and knotted the series at two games aside.
“I saw an opportunity to come off the wall,” Rachinski told Shaw’s Peter Loubardias afterward. “I didn’t see it go in. I just threw it on net.”
Flames prospect Laurent Brossoit made 39 saves in net for Edmonton, while Mac Carruth stopped 38 in a track meet of a match.
Game 5 goes Thursday at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
Portland got the start it wanted and gave the sold out Rose Garden something to cheer about early. Marcel Noebels sprung lose for a breakaway and roofed the shot over Brossoit, just 1:21 into play. The goal came seconds after Edmonton’s Curtis Lazar clanged a shot off the post at the other end of the rink.
After a flurry of chances, including a Martin Gernat shot that hit the post, Edmonton evened the game in a four-on-four situation. With Keegan Lowe and Cam Reid in the penalty box, Jordan Peddle centred a pass over to Rachinski, allowing the winger to stuff his fifth of the playoffs home at 15:50.
Plagued by bad second periods throughout the playoffs, the Oil Kings found the urgency coach Derek Laxdal had wanted from them over the previous two games. After being singled out by Laxdal after Game 3, Tyler Maxwell gave the Oil Kings their first lead since Game 1. Taking a pass behind the net from defenceman Ryan Dech, the winger caught Carruth out of position and beat him on a wraparound goal at 8:17.
While the shot count was close at 16-13 in favour of Edmonton, the Oil Kings owned the middle frame. Their persistence on Carruth paid off again at 19:04, when Stephane Legault scooped up a rebound in the slot, spun and fired it top shelf to give his team a 3-1 edge.
Then, cue up the Baertschi show. He scored at 3:49 of the third, finishing off a Noebels-Ty Rattie setup in front of the net to make it a one-goal affair. Trailing by a goal with a crowd of 10,947 that pushed the 100-decibel mark all night behind them, the Winterhawks took a turn in the drivers’ seat, peppering shots at Brossoit.
Baertschi added to his highlight reel with the equalizer at 9:06. He dove to finish a centring pass from defenceman Derek Pouliot, sliding it past a sprawling Brossoit.
Baertschi looked for the hat trick just inside the 12-minute mark, narrowly missing a redirection in front of the net.
Portland forward Ty Rattie of Airdrie almost had the go-ahead goal seconds later. His shot on Brossoit was stopped, trickled behind the goalie and fell short of the goal-line before Brossoit fell on his back to make the save.
“We feel we haven’t been able to put together a solid 60 yet,” Rachinski told Shaw of the series, and specifically a third period that came off the rails for Edmonton.
“Tonight we let it slip in the third, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
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