A side story for the entertaining series that has taken place between the Spokane Chiefs and Portland Winterhawks has been the lack of scoring from the player on the ice who has the most NHL games under his belt.
Kailer Yamamoto after averaging 1.60 points per game in the regular season had just two assists and no goals through the first four games of the opening round series and all of the regulation part of Game 5.
Safe to say he picked a big moment to notch his first playoff goal.
Midway through the extra session, the Edmonton Oilers draft pick moved into a space vacated by Nolan Reid and took a feed from Jaret Anderson-Dolan to beat Cole Kehler and give his Spokane Chiefs another game of life.
Yamamoto’s goal gave Spokane a 5-4 victory and was their second OT win at Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum in three games played there so far this post-season.
Anderson-Dolan led the way for Spokane with three assists while Reid, Jake McGrew and Hudson Elynuik each chipped in two points apiece.
The result was a surprise considering Portland held a 4-3 lead with just over 30 seconds left in regulation.
That was when Reid found fired a desperate heave from the blue line and had it bank off of Portland’s Alex Overhardt and past Kehler. One bounce and Spokane had forced overtime.
With three of the first four games of the playoffs ending with a 4-3 score, it seemed that this one would end the series between the two in a fitting way until Reid banked his shot by Kehler.
The Portland goalie stopped 49 of 54. This was the most stops he has had since Game 1 of Portland’s second round series with Kelowna in the 2017 playoffs.
At the other end of the ice, Spokane finally got the playoff performance from a goalie of theirs that they have so desperately needed. With Portland up 4-3 in the third period, Weatherill made stop after desperate stop to keep the Chiefs close and allow Reid to later force the OT.
Weatherill stopped 40 of 44 and his play seemed to give Spokane more confidence than they have played with for most of the series with Portland.
Portland opened the scoring in the first with a goal from their third line.
Conor MacEachern took the puck in behind the net and found Mason Mannek charging into the zone. The Utah native then wired a shot by Weatherill to open the scoring. It was his second of the playoffs after netting 10 in 58 regular season games.
The Chiefs then tied the game on the power play with 7:22 left in the first.
Riley Woods continued his offensive prowess at the VMC. After Keoni Texeira was whistled for tripping, Eli Zummack passed down low to Jake McGrew and the San Jose Sharks draft pick found a wide open Woods. After a two-game point-less streak at home in this series, Woods netted his second of the series and fifth point to tie the game at one.
Cody Glass put the Winterhawks back up by one before the first was over. It was his second of the post-season.
In the second period, the Chiefs appeared to tie the game.
Elynuik dropped a pass over to Riley Woods and Woods beat Kehler. The goal was looked at on video replay and eventually disallowed due to the incidental contact that Elynuik had made with Kehler before Woods shot the puck.
Spokane got the tying goal that counted later in the second. A chance at the back door by Yamamoto was flubbed, but Anderson-Dolan collected the puck and found Elynuik for a shot Kehler was not ready for.
Portland found an answer right away. Ryan Hughes tried a saucer pass at a charging Joachim Blichfeld but the puck did not need to be redirected to get by Weatherill. Instead it beat Weatherill who looked like he was expecting a redirection.
5:05 into the third period, Jake McGrew tied the game again for Spokane. Tyson Helgesen fired a shot on net that Kehler stopped. Anderson-Dolan’s follow up was also stopped but McGrew got his backhand on the loose puck for his first of the playoffs.
The momentum would seem to be heading Spokane’s way but Kieffer Bellows helped change that. The power forward, who has created so many strong chances for Portland this round wired a shot on that Weatherill turned away. Dennis Cholowski jumped all over the rebound and drilled a shot up over him and into the top shelf for the 4-3 Portland lead.
The Winterhawks then carried the play and looked for opportunities to add some insurance. Weatherill made sure they did not.
Spokane was 1-for-6 on the power play and Portland was 0-for-2. The Chiefs are now 5-for-19 on the man advantage while the Winterhawks are a WHL-worst 2-for-18.
Glass overtook the team lead in playoff points with a goal and an assist and now has eight in five games.
Game 6 goes Monday in Spokane. Portland won both games their this post-season so far.
Portland has won 27 of 38 road games this year and has now won just eight of 23 games at the supposedly friendly confines of the VMC.
-Skyler McKenzie and Joachim Blichfeld each had seven shots for Portland, while Bellows and Glass each had five.
-The Winterhawks struggled at the face off dot. Alex Overhardt was 6-for-21, Glass was 6-for-14, Jake Gricius was 4-for-11 and McKenzie was 4-for-6.
-Anderson-Dolan has rebounded into form and now has seven points in the five gams so far this series. Elynuik and Woods each have five.