Landon Bow and T-Birds white wash the Cougars 4-0
When the Seattle Thunderbirds acquired goalie Landon Bow at the trade deadline last week, it was for nights like this.
Bow was spectacular Wednesday night while making 26 saves as the T-Birds bounced back to blank the Prince George Cougars 4-0. It was Bow’s first shoutout as a T-Bird, third of the season and 11th of his career.
It was good night for all of Seattle’s newcomers as Cavin Leth scored Seattle’s first two goals and Bryan Allbee added an assist.
Seattle came out of the gates strong on Wednesday, determined to not have a repeat of Tuesday’s loss.
“Ready to go, very good focus,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said of the effort. “Good job by the leadership group to make sure that the only thing that was important was to win the game and do whatever it takes to win the game. Good job from the goaltender out.”
The T-Birds got their forecheck going, they blocked shots all night and created scoring chances at the Prince George end. Despite that effort the game turned into a goalie battle through the first 40 minutes.
Both Ty Edmonds and Bow seemingly matched each other with stellar save after save and neither team scored in the first two periods. Edmonds ended the night making 24 saves on 27 Seattle shots.
Seattle started to build some momentum late in the second period however and that carried over into their first shift of the third. Scott Eansor got the puck down behind the Cougars net and fed Leth who chipped the puck over Edmonds.
The goal came 13 seconds into the period and gave the T-Birds a huge momentum lift. Leth would extend the lead late in the period when Allbee fed him in the high slot on the power play.
For Leth, the two markers give him three since joining the T-Birds last week. All three new players chipped in Wednesday, something that can help them feel like this is their team.
“If you go to a new team you have added pressure,” Konowalchuk said of his new guys. “I know talking to Leth today he felt he doesn’t want to let the team down, that’s added pressure. So any time those three guys can go out and help, it relaxes them and they can go out and play hard. Just go out and play hard and the results will come.”
The results came on Wednesday as the T-Birds picked up two huge points in the U.S. Division standings. Seattle has now won three of their last four games as they head into a big weekend that includes a showdown with Everett on Saturday.
They’re going to need more strong performances from Bow.
With the game still scoreless he made perhaps his best save of the night when he stoned Jesse Gabrielle on a break away in the first period. He calmly waited out the speedy winger and kicked the puck aside. He was big in net and back stopped a strong Seattle penalty kill that stopped Prince George on seven attempts.
The penalty kill as at tis best when the score was still just 1-0 in the third period. The Cougars were awarded two power-play chances to tie the game but the T-Birds’ killers, and Bow were strong.
“I thought we did a pretty good job with pressure,” Konowalchuk said of the kills. “Did a good job getting most of the clears and when they got a chance we blocked shots and made a couple of saves there. Penalty kill was huge for us tonight.”
Blocked shots was a theme all night.
Throughout the entire game the Seattle forwards and defenseman threw their bodies at Prince George shots to get some big blocks. Blocking shots takes courage and the coach liked seeing that out of his squad.
“Its a commitment and willingness,” Konowalchuk said. “If you want win bad enough really, that’s all that boils down to.”
The blocks made life a bit easier for Bow in net and the T-Birds have to like what they see in their new backstop so far. He’s 3-0 with Seattle and has only allowed a total of three goals in those games.
“The games will get tighter and tighter down the stretch,” Konowalchuk said. “A save here and a save there between the two teams goaltenders can be the difference.”
It was the difference Wednesday night and gave Seattle a tough split on the road against a good Prince George squad that is fighting for second place in the Western Conference.
Seattle would add a goal from Ryan Gropp late in the third along with an empty-net short-handed score from Jerret Smith to ice the game.
While they would have liked to win both games on the trip, the split was good for the T-Birds.
“Its not too bad,” Konowalchuk said of the split. “Again, we want to go and think we can win every game. They’re a good team and you lose that first one you know you’ve got to buckle down and win the second. It will make the bus ride a lot better.”
• Seattle played Wednesday without Keegan Kolesar who served a one game suspension for the staged fight he took part of on Tuesday night. His opponent in that scrap, Colby McAuely, was also suspended and both teams were fined $500.
• So far Leth is fitting in nicely with Eansor and Nolan Volcan on the T-Birds second line. His speed is a good fit and they caused all kinds of trouble for the Cougars on Wednesday night.
• The T-Birds entered the game on a 1-for-16 power-play drought but did capitalize on one of their five chances Wednesday.
• Bow’s last shutout came on October 24th as he made 25 saves in a 3-0 Swift Current win over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
• The T-Birds’ next game is Friday night against the Regina Pats at the ShoWare Center.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.