(1090 The Fan) — Shea Theodore’s shootout goal lifted Seattle to a 3-2 win over Moose Jaw, Tuesday night.
Taran Kozun held the Warriors scoreless in the shootout and provided 29 saves in another strong performance for his fourth win in as many starts with the Thunderbirds. Kozun had all of five victories with Kamloops before being dealt nearly two weeks ago.
The victory allowed Seattle (29-14-2-3) to stretch its winning streak to seven games despite squandering a 2-goal lead it gained early in the first period. With the playoffs creeping up, Seattle is in firm control of the fourth seed in the Western Conference.
Moose Jaw, playing Seattle for the only time this season, forced overtime when Brayden Point scored his second goal of the game with just eight seconds remaining. The Warriors pulled goalie Justin Paulic for an extra attacker and with just 10 seconds left, Moose Jaw threw the puck on net.
In the ensuing scramble, Point flipped the puck up over Seattle’s Kozun for the equalizer.
The Thunderbirds dominated the overtime period with seven shots to one but could not get one through Paulic who played tremendously after a poor start.
Scott Eansor and Ethan Bear each took advantage of an unsteady Paulic early, putting Seattle ahead 2-0 less than four minutes into the game. Eansor’s goal came just 33 seconds into the game as he blindly threw a shot at the net from the slot that got past an unsuspecting Paulic.
Bear notched his third goal of the season more traditionally, thanks to a nice pass from Shea Theodore on Seattle’s first power play just 3:46 in.
Despite the early onslaught from the T-Birds, Moose Jaw (13-26-3-5) battled its way back largely due to the efforts of Point, widely recognized as one of the top prospects in the WHL.
Point scored a late first period goal, coming at 19:37, to give the Warriors some momentum as a rough first period came to a close. Moose Jaw, which entered with the fourth fewest points among WHL teams, held Seattle scoreless over the final 56 minutes, Tuesday.
One of the issues for Seattle was spending an inordinate amount of time on the penalty kill. Moose Jaw had the most penalty minutes of any team coming into the game and that style of play definitely seemed to rub off on Seattle.
“It’s our fault, we deserved most of them,” Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk said of the penalties his team received versus Moose Jaw. “We want to play with emotion…but we’ve got to keep it in line.”
While the T-Birds displayed a strong penalty kill in front of Kozun — they held Moose Jaw to 1-for-8 on its power play — the team wasn’t able to get much offense going in the latter periods. As a result, forward Mathew Barzal who made his return from an upper body injury suffered before Christmas, was limited to fewer than five minutes of ice time.
Yet Seattle earned the victory, kept its latest win streak alive and stayed within striking distance of Portland for the U.S. Division crown.
“We want to be jumping up there and trying to get the U.S. Division lead, so every win is huge,” said Theodore. “We’re just playing with confidence. We’re a confident team and we’re just always playing the right way every night.”
As they seek that lead, the schedule now turns difficult for Seattle with 11 consecutive games against winning teams, including seven against its U.S. Division rivals. A stretch that coach Konowalchuk knows is important for his team with the playoffs on the horizon.
“The rest of the way for us is big hockey. We want to get our game as polished as much as we can to get ready for playoffs. It has to become instinct by then. You can’t decide to change your game in playoff hockey,” Konowalchuk said. “We want to approach every one of these games with all the right habits, all the right details.”
1. SEA Scott Eansor (3) (Yakubowski, Hauf), 0:33
2. SEA Ethan Bear (4) (Theodore), 3:46 (PP)
3. MJ Brayden Point (21) (Gore, Cooke), 19:37
4. MJ Brayden Point (22) (Forsberg, Sleptsov), 19:52 (PP)
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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