Thunderbirds shut out Cougars to take commanding 3-0 series lead
The Thunderbirds were ready for a push back from the home-standing Prince George Cougars at the start of Tuesday’s Game 3.
Instead of fighting back into it, the Cougars watched as Seattle scored early to set a tone on its way to a 5-0 win to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The T-Birds got two goals from Cavin Leth and 27 saves from goalie Landon Bow, who picked up his first postseason shutout to put the Cougars in a deep hole. Seattle will have a chance to end the series Wednesday night when the two teams will skate in Game 4 at the CN Centre in Prince George.
Whatever fire Prince George planned on bringing to get back in the series was doused pretty early as Nick Holowko got Seattle on the board just over three minutes into the game. It was a big first period for Seattle’s top line as Holowko would get the puck to Keegan Kolesar in the high-slot six minutes later for another Seattle score.
It was Kolesar’s third goal of the series and helped set the tone of the game. Seattle was there to play.
Over the last couple of months, Seattle’s success has a lot to do with contributions it had up and down its lineup. Tuesday night it was Holowko with two points and once again, the third line of Andreas Schumacher, Alexander True and Cavin Leth showed up big. They’ve had three strong games in this series and combined for the next three Seattle goals on Tuesday night.
True knocked home a rebound on a Seattle power play early in the second to extend the lead and further keep Prince George in a hole. It was the first power-play goal of the series as the T-Birds came into the game going 0 for 11 in the first two contests. It also was the end of the night for Cougars goalie Ty Edmonds, who was replaced by Nick McBride.
Seattle entered the third period in control with a three-goal lead and didn’t let up.
Late in the third period, down by five goals, the Prince George frustration boiled over. Coming in with a reputation for playing on and over the edge, Jesse Gabrielle took a shot at Barzal and tried to get the Seattle star to fight. Gabrielle was given a five-minute major as well as a game misconduct and it will be interesting to see how the league views his actions.
The two teams will be back on the ice Wednesday night for Game 4 and Seattle will be looking for the series sweep and a chance to move on to the next round. A start like Tuesday’s will go a long way to make that happen.
• Bow was tested more on Tuesday than perhaps both Game 1 and 2 combined but the big goalie didn’t waver. In his last two starts in Prince George, he has not allowed a goal. He was in net on Jan. 13 to make 26 saves in a 4-0 T-Birds win.
• In the first three games, the True line has combined to score six goals to go along with six assists. So far, Prince George has no answer for the T-Birds’ third line.
• Seattle’s 3-0 series lead has come without its top goal scorer as Ryan Gropp was a scratch again on Tuesday. According to the team, he is out week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
• It is looking like Seattle is on a collision course to face the Everett Silvertips in the second round. Tuesday night the Silvertips were in Portland and took a 3-0 series lead as they beat the Winterhawks 5-3. The two U.S. Division rivals will play Game 4 on Wednesday evening.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.