Cougars slam T-Birds 6-2 in Prince George
After a successful weekend the Thunderbirds found the going a little bit tougher Tuesday night in Prince George.
Seattle gave up four consecutive goals on the way to a 6-2 loss to the Cougars at the CN Centre. Prince George’s Kody McDonald, playing in his 100th WHL game, notched his first career hat trick to pace the Cougars attack.
Seattle played a decent first period but fell behind in the second and were never able to recover.
“It wasn’t a bad start and then we kind of got away from things there,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “We need to be sharp there and play a 60-minute game tomorrow.”
The T-Birds made things hard on themselves early on when Keegan Kolesar was given the gate just 11 seconds into the game after participating in a staged fight with Colby McAuley. After having words with each other before the opening face off, the two engaged shortly after.
That cost both players a game misconduct and caused some line juggles.
After falling behind early in the first on a Chase Witala goal the T-Birds managed to tie the game when Matt Barzal scored his third goal in two games. But at the end of the period the T-Birds put themselves short handed again.
Scott Eansor was given a ten-minute misconduct penalty after the horn which meant he would miss the first ten minutes of the second period. The Cougars would take advantage as McDonald put Prince George up for good 38 seconds into the second.
“Its two good players, no doubt about it that are out of your lineup,” Konowalchuk said of losing Kolesar and Eansor. “We were doing fine without Keegan out there but then we lose Eansor and now you’re down another guy. It definitely changes everything for you, your power play and your chemistry.”
That goal put the T-Birds on their heels and they were losing puck battles and unable to sustain any pressure on Prince George goalie Ty Edmonds. With the period just about to end McDonald would score again to make it 3-1 and put Seattle in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.
“I think the third goal was big,” Konowalchuk said.” Again, not a bad first but then we got off our game.”
The T-Birds had an early power-play chance in the third period but couldn’t muster up any chances and the wheels feel off when Jansen Harkins converted a penalty shot to make it 4-1 and then just 30 seconds later McDonald completed his hat trick.
The T-Birds power play has struggled of late and they were 0-for-6 on Tuesday night and had they converted, the game could have gone in a different direction.
“We’ve got to shoot the puck,” Konowalchuk said of his power play. “We’ve got to shoot it, that’s the bottom line. When we set up shots, we’re waiting, holding and then shooting. We’ve got to be ready to shoot it.”
Jerret Smith would score late in the third to cut the lead to 5-2 but any chance of a miracle comeback was doused by an empty-net tally from Tate Olsen to put a final stamp on the loss.
Seattle snaps their mini two-game win streak but will get a chance at redemption quickly as they are back on the ice with Prince George on Wednesday night.
“I hope the guys want to get back at it,” Konowalchuk said. “We want to be more focused and committed to getting two points.”
• Seattle’s power play has yet to regain form with the return of Barzal from the World Juniors. Konowalchuk had to replace Kolesar on the first unit and the six failed attempts puts them in a 1-for-16 streak over their last four games.
• The 6-2 score is the second straight loss to Prince George by that score. The Cougars posted the same victory on December 15th at the ShoWare Center.
• Logan Flodell started the game but was pulled after Prince George’s fifth goal of the night. He made 17 saves and was relieved by Landon Bow who stopped all six shots he faced.
• The loss dropped Seattle to five points behind Everett for first place in the U.S. Division standings as the Silvertips lost in overtime to the Regina Pats on Tuesday.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.