The Portland Winterhawks made a dramatic third period comeback to force overtime, where Taylor Leier scored the game-winner to give the Hawks a 4-3 win and 2-1 series lead over the Kelowna Rockets Tuesday in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final at the Moda Center in front of 9,259 fans.
Leier’s goal came exactly 10 minutes into the extra frame to cap a wild game in which the Hawks fired 65 shots at Rockets netminder Jordon Cooke, the second straight contest in which Portland has had 50+ shots on net.
It was Kelowna who struck first when Riley Stadel scored 2:22 into the game for an early 1-0 Rockets lead. The Hawks controlled play through much of the period and outshot the Rockets 18-10, but it remained a 1-0 score heading into the second.
Portland continued applying pressure early in the second and it paid off at the 6:26 mark when Oliver Bjorkstrand went hard to the net and banged a rebound past Cooke to tie the game at 1-1. But 13 seconds later the Rockets went back ahead when Colten Martin scored to give the visitors a 2-1 advantage. The Hawks continued to generate chances, outshooting Kelowna 21-11 in the period, but the Rockets maintained their 2-1 lead going into the third.
It remained that way through much of the third, until the Rockets’ Ryan Olsen scored at the 14:50 mark to give Kelowna a 3-1 lead.
From there, the Hawks staged an incredible late comeback with unrelenting pressure, and were rewarded when Bjorkstrand scored his second of the game on a power play at the 17:01 mark to bring them within one, at 3-2. Portland kept coming, and finally got the equalizer on another power play at the 18:42 mark when a shot by Derrick Pouliot caromed off the end boards to Brendan Leipsic at the side of the net, where he buried it for the 3-3 tie to force overtime.
Winterhawks netminder Corbin Boes made several highlight-reel stops in the overtime to keep the game tied, setting up Leier’s game winner.
Leipsic and Pouliot extended their point streaks in the game, with each having registered at least a point in all 12 playoff games thus far.
Boes stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced in the win, while Cooke made 61 saves on 65 Portland shots.
Game 4 is Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Moda Center.
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