T-Birds power past Blades 4-3 in Saskatoon
The Thunderbirds made it closer than they’d like Tuesday night but managed to pick up a second win on their eastern road swing.
Seattle built a big lead on the back of a suddenly resurgent power play and held off a late charge to win 4-3 over the Saskatoon Blades at the SaskTel Centre. Scott Eansor had what turned out to be the game-winning goal while adding an assist and line mate Nolan Volcan collected two points in the win.
The T-Birds power-play unit was the star Tuesday as they converted on three out of their six chances on the night. It was the second straight game they scored three power-play goals and the unit is 6-for-11 over that stretch.
Seattle wasted no time setting the tone of the night with a physical first shift.
Facing former Thunderbird goalie Logan Flodell, Seattle tilted the ice and blistered their former mate for 15 first-period shots. Flodell kept his new team in the game but the T-Birds controlled the play and got on the board.
Just under three minutes in, the T-Birds were on the power play and defenseman Jarret Tyszka flung a wrist shot from the point that beat Flodell through traffic. It was Tyszka’s first of the year as he continues his fine play of late with three points in his last three games.
While Seattle controlled the play in the first, they only got the one goal but just before the period ended, Tyszka was clipped with a high stick by Saskatoon’s Mason McCarty. The stick drew blood which gave the T-Birds a four-minute power play to start the second period.
The T-Birds made the Blades pay.
Alexander True would knock home his 5th of the year just under a minute into the second after a nice, quick passing play. Seattle was still on the power play and Donovan Neuls followed up with a put-back of a loose puck in the crease past Flodell.
That made it 3-0 and ended Flodell’s night as he was replaced by Brock Hamm. He made 16 saves while allowing three goals in his first game against the team that traded him just before the season started.
The Blades would get a goal back later in the period after a Seattle turnover ended up on the stick of Michael Farren. The rookie skated off the half-boards and beat Rylan Toth for his first WHL goal.
Down only two goals the Blades were looking to push but it was the T-Birds and Tyszka who appeared to strike next. Another Tyszka point shot found the net but the goal was waived off as Eansor was called for a cross check in front of the net.
The Blades went to the power play and while Seattle killed it off, they took another penalty just as the first was ending. Eansor would then strike to take the momentum back. After stealing the puck at his own blue line, he won a race down the ice but the puck slid off his stick.
Not giving up, he circled around, got the puck back and fired a shot from the slot that beat Hamm. The short-handed goal gave Seattle a 4-1 lead and everything seemed to be in Seattle’s control as the teams headed to the dressing rooms for the second intermission.
Saskatoon would score early in the third off the stick of Josh Patterson to make things interesting. Seattle appeared to have survived that as the clock wore down but McCarty would score on a backhand with just over a minute left and the extra skater on the ice. That made it 4-3 and the game was suddenly in doubt.
The T-Birds would hold off the Blades however and pick up a big road win. They pushed their season record to 5-6-0-1 and will look to get back to .500 Wednesday night when they will travel to face the Prince Albert Raiders.
• Seattle’s power play continues to climb up the league’s chart. With six goals in it’s last two games the power play is now ranked 10th in the WHL at 21.1 percent. It had spent a good portion of the season at the bottom of the rankings.
• Replays of Seattle’s first goal showed that the puck may have deflected off of Eansor’s skate. The league can review tape of the game and award the goal to Eansor, which would give him two on the night.
• The T-Birds out shot the Blades 33-24 and it was the 10th time in 12 games that Seattle has had more shots than the opponent.
• Mathew Barzal was again a scratch for the New York Islanders on Tuesday as they lost to the Tamp Bay Lightning in Brooklyn.