Landon Bow does it again as T-Birds shut out Winterhawks 3-0
Seattle goalie Landon Bow showed Friday night that he can bounce back from a tough loss.
After giving up four goals last Saturday in Everett, the 20-year-old netminder has gone 120 minutes without allowing anything as he picked up his second straight shutout in the T-Birds’ 3-0 win in Portland.
Keegan Kolesar scored twice and set up another goal to give Bow all the offense he needed to blank the Winterhawks.
Bow made 30 saves on his way to his third shutout with Seattle and his fifth of the season overall.
“He’s a competitive kid,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said after Friday’s game. “He’s very excited to play every game when you ask him to go. You can tell he really wants the challenge.”
Bow was at his best in the first period Friday. The Winterhawks came out playing well, looking to try and make up ground on Seattle (26-16-3-0) in the standings. They fired 12 shots on the Seattle net and many were quality chances. Bow stopped Evan Weinger on a breakaway and then later in the period stoned Keegan Iverson, who was in close, to set the tone for the night.
While his teammates found their rhythm, Bow made sure the game stayed scoreless.
“Their team came out hard,” Konowalchuk said. “Bow made a couple of big saves in that first period. On the road sometimes that will get your feet under you. I thought after that we were dedicated to grinding it out.”
After a first period that featured good end-to-end action by both teams, the second turned into a special-teams affair as both squads had multiple power-play chances. Coming into the game the T-Birds’ penalty-kill unit was tops in the WHL, killing off 84 percent of their chances.
Friday they stopped all six Portland power plays and the T-Birds’ hottest goal scorer even managed to give them all the scoring they would need while short handed.
Early into the second period Kolesar picked up a loose puck while short-handed and was off to a two-on-one with Donovan Neuls. He got the puck to Neuls who beat Portland goalie Adin Hill for the short-handed goal. It was the fourth straight game that Neuls has scored a goal in as he playing the best hockey of his career.
“It helps the confidence,” Konowalchuk said of Neuls’ scoring. “But you know he played well first and then the goals come. He’s playing some good solid hockey for us and it’s good to see the team get rewarded.”
Clinging to a one-goal lead the T-Birds, and Kolesar, would strike late in the second with a dagger.
On a power-play of their own, Ryan Gropp took the puck off the half boards and found Kolesar parked in the high slot. He fed him the puck and with a big screen in front of Hill from Alexander True, Kolesar scored. The goal came with 11 seconds on the clock and was a big momentum boost for the T-Birds heading into the third period.
“Real big goal,” Konowalchuk said. “We had a couple kills there, a 5-on-3 kill, we finish that off. We had the power plays and they almost got through it. If they get through that it’s a little bit more even of a third period but to get that one gave us a little momentum.”
Kolesar would add a late empty net goal to seal the deal and he now has 22 markers on the season.
In the third period Seattle clamped down defensively on Portland.
The Winterhawks could not solve the T-Birds forecheck and if they did, Seattle’s defense would keep them to the outside. Portland (23-21-2-0) didn’t get it’s first shot on goal in the third until nearly ten minutes in and would end the frame with only eight shots total – most of those coming on two late power plays.
“I liked the mindset of our team (in the third),” Konowalchuk said. “We were forechecking but we were smart with the puck I thought. We weren’t letting them generate too much speed until the power plays.”
The win pulled Seattle back to within five points of the first-place Everett Silvertips in the U.S. Division. Everett was in Edmonton Friday night and were shut out 1-0.
As the season enters the stretch drive, every game looms large and points become a premium. Seattle will have to enjoy Friday’s win on the bus ride home and then get ready to face the same Portland squad at home on Saturday night.
You can bet the Winterhawks will want some payback.
“We’ve got to get ready,” Konowalchuk said. “We’re going to be playing a hungry team tomorrow and we’ve got to be ready to roll.”
• Bow has been simply spectacular since joining the T-Birds at the trade deadline. He is 6-1 in a Seattle uniform with three shutouts, a goals-against-average of 1.36 and a save percentage of .952. He has five shutouts on the season, which ties him with Red Deer’s Rylan Toth for second in the league. Everett’s Carter Hart has six.
• Getting scoring from players like Neuls could loom large for the T-Birds. Seattle has relied on Mathew Barzal, Gropp and Kolesar for the bulk of their scoring, and getting a win where Barzal is held off the scoreboard is a big deal. “All the guys are working hard,” Konowalchuk said. “The other lines are feeling dangerous and creating momentum. They’re getting chances and I think we’ll see more and more guys chipping in.”
• The T-Birds are now 4-1 against the Winterhawks and have won two of three in the Moda Center.
• Seattle will host the Winterhawks on Saturday in the annual Teddy Bear Toss night. Fans are encouraged to bring stuffed animals to throw on the ice after the first Seattle goal. The animals are collected and donated to local charities. Face off is at 7 p.m.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.