Overtime has not been very kind to the Tri-City Americans during the postseason.
Marcel Noebels scored the game-winner at 7:52 of overtime to lead the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-4 victory Friday night over the Americans in the opening game of the Western Conference finals at Toyota Center.
"I thought we played really well," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team is 0-for-4 in overtime in the playoffs. “We had three or four really good chance in overtime to win the game and it didn’t go in. We made good plays, we just didn’t get it over the goal line. They have some players who can skate and put the puck in the net."
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is tonight at Toyota Center.
“I thought the game was really even both ways,” Portland coach Mike Johnston said. “It was a well played game. There wasn’t a lot of extra stuff out there and I thought it was a disciplined game. I thought in the overtime they really outplayed us, but I thought for the most part the game was dead even.”
Portland, which had the lead four different times in regulation, made its one shot in the extra session count.
Sven Bartschi made the assist on Noebels’ game-winning goal, a beautiful cross-ice pass.
“I think the pass from Bartschi was incredible,” Noebels said. “On that shot I thought ‘go high.’ I shot it and it went in. We have to be smarter on those penalties. I think 5-on-5 we can beat them We have to stay out of the box. It was an amazing game out there.”
For every goal the Winterhawks scored, the Americans had an answer.
Patrick Holland’s second goal of the game, at 9:07 of the third on the power play, tied the score at 3-3.
Portland came back with a power-play goal by Joe Morrow at 10:56 as his shot from the left point glanced off Ty Rimmer’s pads and popped into the net for a 4-3 lead.
Tri-City defenseman Mitch Topping, who had four goals during the regular season, took a pass off the back wall from Malte Strömwall and beat Mac Carruth in the top left corner of the net at 15:09 for his fourth goal of the playoffs and a tie game.
“I got a great pass from Malte, and if I’m going to score a goal it’s going to be (in the slot),” Topping said. “I was looking to go high and it went in. It’s going to be a great series. Portland has a lot of skilled guys. It’s a fast game out there. We played a good game, respect to them for coming out hard, as well. It will be a good series for sure -- toe-to-toe."
Portland had a 1-0 lead after the first period, but Tri-City’s Brendan Shinnimin ran his scoring streak to 35 games, scoring from the between the circles on the power play at 6:26 to even the score.
Two minutes later, Bartschi gave Portland a 2-1 lead, as his diving shot went high glove side on Rimmer.
Cam Reid extended Portland’s lead to 3-1 at 15:47 as his shot from inside the left face-off circle found the net for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
The Americans, working on their second power play of the period, needed just 19 seconds to pull within 3-2.
Adam Hughesman’s diving pass sent the puck out to Justin Feser at the right point. Feser sent the puck across the blue line to Holland, whose shot beat Carruth at 18:39.
“It’s always entertaining when you put players on the ice like they have in Holland, Shinnimin, Hughesman, (Jordan) Messier, Feser and even Topping, who jumped up in the rush tonight,” Johnston said. “They have some dynamic players. Then you look on the other side and we have Bartschi, Rattie, (Brad) Ross and Noebels. With that much skill out there on the ice, it’s not just chip it in and hope something happens.”
Rimmer made several brilliant saves in the first, including a stop of a Bartschi breakaway. The rebound got away from Rimmer after the shot and Brendan Leipsic was there to clean up for his fourth goal of the playoffs with just 19.9 seconds left in the period.
Rimmer also had a big pad save on a Bartschi shot at 13:56 and a huge glove save on Morrow’s blast from the high slot at 18:33.
The Americans had 14 shots on goal -- several up close and personal on Carruth -- but the Portland goalie denied them all. Carruth finished with 43 saves.