In what looked to be a close game after the first period, turned into a rout by the end of the second — not quite what the Tri-City Americans had in mind.
The Portland Winterhawks scored seven unanswered goals in the second and third periods en route to a 8-1 win over the Americans before a crowd of 4,203 on Saturday night at Toyota Center.
“I thought the last 10 minutes of the first we played really well,” Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. “We were on the forecheck, creating turnovers and getting some hits. We wanted to continue that, but we didn’t give ourselves much of a chance to start the second. Before we could even get a forecheck going, they had three goals.”
The Americans (5-8-0-1), who had won three in a row at home, are off until Tuesday when they host the Swift Current Broncos.
Portland (7-3-0-1), which ran its win streak to four games, outshot Tri-City 40-24, and got 23 saves from Brendan Burke.
Tied at 1-1 after the first period, the Winterhawks used their quick transition game to take a 4-1 lead, scoring three goals in a span of 1:25.
Keegan Iverson started the parade of goals just 35 seconds into the second period, followed by Taylor Leier at 1:48 and Chase De Leo — with his second of the night — at 2:02.
“Those three goals in a row are tough to come back from,” Portland coach Mike Johnston said. “All three of them were well-earned goals. (Eric) Comrie didn’t have a chance on any of those goals.”
Nic Petan stretched Portland’s lead to 5-1 by the end of the second, scoring off a nice cross-ice pass by Brendan Leipsic at 17:06.
“You have to make sure they start under their goal line and you are getting contact with their defensemen,” Hiller said. “When you don’t, you saw what happened. They are a dynamic offensive team.”
The Americans mustered just four shots on goal in the second, but killed off two Portland power plays.
Comrie, who had 22 saves through two periods, sat out the third. Rookie Evan Sarthou took over in net and the Winterhawks showed no mercy, scoring three goals on 13 shots.
Paul Bittner, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Presten Kopeck all scored in the third as Portland handed Tri-City its worst loss of the season.
“I thought the best part of our game was the last half of the game,” Johnston said. “We played better defensively than we have the last couple of weeks. We kept the shots against down and we limited their good chances.”
The only thing that didn’t go well for Portland was its power play, which connected just once on five chances.
“Our power play is struggling a bit,” Johnston said. “I was happy to get the one.”
De Leo and the Winterhawks set the pace early, taking a 1-0 lead just 2:22 into the game.
De Leo brought the puck into the Americans’ zone and put a shot on goal. Comrie thought he had the puck, but it had escaped his grasp and landed in the crease to his right. De Leo circled around the net and poked the puck in the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Americans outshot the Winterhawks 8-3 the last 9:45 of the first and pulled even with a goal by Jessey Astles at 10:43.
Beau McCue knocked the puck away from Portland’s Garrett Haar behind the net and fed Astles out front, who backhanded the puck past Burke for his first goal with the Americans, and his first since Oct. 5, 2012 when he was with Saskatoon.
Notes: Portland leads the 10-game season series 2-1. The teams meet again Nov. 6 at the Moda Center in Portland. ... Bittner played his first game since opening night, when he suffered an upper body injury.