by Graham Kendrick
March 21, 2014, Portland (ISN) – Oliver Bjorkstrand’s goal with under two minutes to play in the third period gave the Portland Winterhawks a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Giants in Game 1 of their first round playoff series Friday in front of 9,756 fans at the Moda Center.
Bjorkstrand and Brendan Leipsic scored two apiece in the win.
Vancouver opened the scoring 6:08 into the game on a goal by Jackson Houck to make it 1-0, but later in the period the Hawks gained their first lead on goals just 43 seconds apart.
First it was Leipsic planting himself in front of the Vancouver net and banging in a rebound at the 12:37 mark to make it 1-1. On the ensuing shift Bjorkstrand banked a shot off a Vancouver defender past netminder Payton Lee for a 2-1 advantage.
The teams had to head to the dressing rooms with 2:52 to go in the period due to an issue with a gate at the Giants’ bench, and when the period resumed Vancouver’s Thomas Foster scored to make it 2-2, which remained the score going into the second.
Late in that second period, Lee lost track of the puck in the Giants zone, and Nic Petan fed Leipsic, who fired it in for his second of the game and a 3-2 lead going into the third.
Vancouver got the equalizer 7:16 into the third on a bad break for the Hawks, as a puck bounced off the end boards, then off netminder Brendan Burke and into the net, with Brett Kulak getting credit for the goal.
It remained 3-3 until just 1:37 remained in regulation, when Bjorkstrand collected a rebound in front of Vancouver’s net, and with time, made a move around Lee and put the puck into the net for a 4-3 Game 1 victory.
Burke got the win with 13 saves on 16 shots. Lee took the loss for the Giants with four goals allowed on 45 shots.
The two teams are back on the ice tomorrow night at the Moda Center for Game 2.