Portland, OR- It was the same story, different chapter.
Paul Bittner scored midway through the third period for the Portland Winterhawks (31-5-1-0, 63 pts), and Portland held off a Tri-City comeback attempt for the second straight game as they edge the Tri-City Americans (20-14-1-2, 43 pts) 4-3 in front of 6,753 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Portland has now won four of five meetings this season. The Americans drop their second straight and halt their road win streak at four.
The game got off to a slow start with neither team having a good chance in the first ten minutes. Portland would score first as Bittner would fire a long wrist shot into the goal to make it 1-0. Nicolas Petan would score late in the period on a wrist shot that beat Luke Lee-Knight, increasing the lead to two. The Winterhawks outshot Tri-City 13-12 and had more good chances to score in the first to help give them the lead.
Tri-City would get on the board in the second as Connor Rankin scored on a 2-on-1 to bring the Americans within one. Brian Williams would tie the game midway through the period as he put home a one-timer in front of the net. But Portland would retake the lead as Brendan Leipsic would blast a slap shot through the legs of Lee-Knight to increase the lead back to one. Tri-City would answer on the power play before the second period buzzer as Connor Rankin would score his second goal of the game on a power play to make it 3-3 after two periods.
Both teams had some chances to take the lead in the third period, and the Winterhawks finally capitalized on one as Bittner scored his second goal of the game on a power play to increase the lead to 4-3 with 8:25 left in the game. Tri-City fought to get back into the game, but just like last night the comeback attempt fell short as Mac Carruth stopped everything the Americans threw at him to give the Winterhawks a 4-3 win.
With an assist tonight, Justin Feser tied Dylan Gyori for 10th on the Americans all-time assists list.
Lee-Knight made 26 saves in the loss, while Carruth made 29 saves in the win.
Tri-City has a day off before they take on the Spokane Chiefs (24-10-1-0, 49 pts) in the annual New Year’s Eve game at the Toyota Center. Game time is at 7:05 p.m. The Americans are 15-5-1-0-1 on New Year’s, winning last year 4-1. The last loss for the Americans on New Year’s Eve came in 2006, and Tri-City is currently on a four game win streak. NewsTalk 870 will have the call starting at 6:45 p.m. with the pregame show. MeTV 42.2 and Charter 280 will have the television broadcast starting at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are still available at the Toyota Center Box Office, any Fred Meyer outlet, any Ticketmaster location or online at Ticketmaster.com.
Jack in the Box Three Stars:
1. Paul Bittner, Portland
2. Nicolas Petan, Portland
3. Connor Rankin, Tri-City