Thunderbirds spill Oil Kings 5-2
KENT — As they did Saturday night in Portland, the Thunderbirds started strong on Tuesday.
They out shot the Edmonton Oil Kings 11-2 to start the game and controlled the play yet again. The difference from Saturday’s overtime loss is that this time, they scored.
Seattle scored three times in the first period on their way to a 5-2 win in front of 5,006 fans at the ShoWare Center. The T-Birds had five different goal scorers including Scott Eansor, who extended his goal-scoring streak to five games. Defenseman Jarret Tyszka chipped in with a goal and an assist while goalie Rylan Toth made 23 saves for his ninth win of the season.
The T-Birds were solid throughout, but the hot start set the tone.
“I think we had some jump in our step for sure,” Nolan Volcan, who had two assists, said. “Those three in the first showed that we were ready to play and I think it carried out for the rest of the game.”
Eansor’s goal made it 3-0 just before the period ended as his hot start to the season continues. His 11 goals are only three goals off his career high of 14 from two seasons ago.
“It just happens to go in,” Eansor said of his goal scoring. “I’m not telling myself to do anything different. My mindset is shoot right now but again, my line mates are doing an awesome job of working (hard) and setting me up.”
Eansor’s line, with Volcan and Sami Moilanen combined for two goals and four assists on the night. On the season they’ve combined for 25 goals, 31 assists and 56 points.
For a line that many think of Seattle’s second line, that’s pretty impressive.
“Well, who’s our top line,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk asked. “Why do we have to keep calling one line a top line? That line is a good hockey line and they’re scoring goals so maybe it is our top line that’s scoring.”
The T-Birds have scored four or more goals in five of their last six games and are getting it from up and down their lineup. The Mathew Barzal, Keegan Kolesar and Ryan Gropp line is still working on getting in sync and in the meantime, the rest of the team is finding the net.
Seattle didn’t waste a lot of time to get on the board Tuesday.
Tyszka scored his first of the season by flinging a puck through traffic in front and past Edmonton goalie Patrick Dea. Four minutes later it would be Donovan Neuls who would bang home a nice back-handed pass from Volcan for a goal.
For Neuls, it was only his second goal in his last nine games. He’s one of the hardest working players on the ice and Tuesday was rewarded with the goal and assist.
“It’s good,” Konowalcuk said of Neuls. “He’s been a little frustrated this year. We expect a lot out of him and he’s a real good kid and he plays hard every day.”
Eansor would finish the first period scoring with just ten seconds left in the opening period. He was set up by Ryan Gropp on the rush and he fired a wrist shot past Dea. That made it 3-0 and gave the T-Birds a commanding lead.
After a scoreless second period Seattle would make it 4-0 when Reese Harsch scored from the point just a minute into the third. The Oil Kings would strike quickly late in the third on goals by Tyler Robertson and Brayden Gorda to cut the lead to two. Seattle recovered from that however and Moilanen would end any doubt when he scored on the empty net late.
“We got back to playing the way we needed to,” Konowalchuk said. “We played confident, there’s no panic there so that’s a good thing. We should be able to close them out without giving them a couple. Mistakes happen but our thought process with leads just has to be a little bit better.”
Seattle is 4-0-1-0 in its last five games and will head north for a big pre-Thanksgiving match up with the first place Everett Silvertips.
“They’re a tough team,” Eansor said of Everett. “We’re chasing them in the standings and they’re pretty hot right now so it will be exciting.”
• Eansor has a long way to go before he sets the franchise record for scoring goals in consecutive games. Glenn Goodall holds the franchise records with a 16-game streak in 1989-1990. The WHL record is held by Cliff Ronning with the New Westminster Bruins, who scored in 18 straight during the 1984-1985.
• Even after scoring in five-straight, Eansor down played the streak. “Who knows,” he said. “You can go 10 games without scoring and then you can have 20 in 10 games.”
• The T-Birds had five players register two points in Tuesday’s game.
• Defenseman Turner Ottenbreit is quietly having a strong offensive season. With an assist on Tuesday he raised his season total to 13 points in 21 games. Last year he notched 16 points in 69 games.