Hurricanes' Power Play Sinks Rebels Once Again
The Lethbridge Hurricanes' power play continues to feast on the Red Deer Rebels.
With Brandon Hagel serving a goaltender interference penalty called just as regulation time expired Tuesday, Lethbridge defenceman Calen Addison connected with a point shot just 38 seconds into overtime.
The early extra-time marker gave the visiting 'Canes a 5-4 victory before 4,227 fans and a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final. Game 4 goes Wednesday at the Centrium.
The power play tally was the Hurricanes' third of the evening and their ninth of the series.
"It definitely comes down to specialty teams again, " said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. "What did they get, three power play goals?"
"Obviously our penalty killing isn't doing the job for us. We had power play opportunities (five) and we scored one late in the game, but our power play wasn't good up to that point," said Sutter.
"Really, it's been the difference in the series. They've gotten some tough goals on us that you don't want to see happen at this time of the year. It's disappointing to get to this point, but to go into overtime short-handed and the way their power play is working, your penalty killing has to be razor sharp."
Rebels netminder Riley Lamb had no chance on the winner as Addison whizzed a low shot through at least six pairs of legs.
"We're not getting blocked shots on it (penalty kill)," said Sutter. "That puck gets shot from the middle of the ice and goes right into our net. We're not getting the job done on our specialty teams, that's the bottom line."
That the game got to overtime was a credit to the Rebels' tenacity, as Jordy Bellerive's goal at 12:29 of the third period gave the visitors a 4-2 lead.
Red Deer wasn't done, though.
Captain Grayson Pawlenchuk narrowed the gap to one when he beat 'Canes goaltender Logan Flodell from the high slot 59 seconds later, and, with Lamb on the bench and the Rebels on the power play, Kristian Reichel connected on a one-timer at 19:13 after taking a cross-ice feed from Dawson Barteaux.
The tying marker came just seconds after the Rebels had a goal disallowed following a video review that didn't show the puck enter the net. It was clearly in but was hidden under Flodell's glove.
The home side also had a goal waved off a mere 30 seconds into the contest. Mason McCarty buried a rebound, but after the referees and linesmen huddled, it was disallowed due to goaltender interference.
"The breaks certainly didn't go our way tonight and that decided it," said Sutter. "It's tough, your goalie is getting bumped all night and we get called for goalie interference at the end of the game.
"It leaves things out there for question, but it is what it is. What are you going to do?"
The Hurricanes opened the scoring 65 seconds following the early disallowed marker. With Rebels forward Chris Douglas off for tripping, Taylor Ross notched his third goal of the series from a goalmouth scramble.
Hagel pulled the Rebels even with a short-handed breakaway goal late in the opening frame, but Zach Cox scored from the side of the net to restore the visitors' lead at 6:48 of the second period.
Reichel responded seven minutes later when he accepted a shovel pass from McCarty, and from between the blueline and the right circle, caught the corner of the net with a rising bullet.
The 'Canes regained the upper hand with a man advantage goal from Brad Morrison with 11 seconds remaining in the period, setting the stage for an exciting final 20 minutes of regulation time.
After being outscored 14-3 on enemy ice in the first two games of the series, the Rebels showed plenty of pushback in Tuesday's hard-hitting contest and were the Hurricanes' equals in every department but one.
"We played better than in Lethbridge," said Reichel. "All game was like up and down, but I mean we stick with it.
"We need to win tomorrow. I saw lots of comebacks like that so we will be ready tomorrow, ready to battle like today and I hope we will win."
In order for Red Deer to take the series back to Lethbridge for a fifth game Saturday, it's clear what has to transpire Wednesday.
"Big problem, difference is special teams," said Reichel. "Like they score every power play, we score three (in the series), I don't know how much.
"Our PK is not too good. We need to be better, don't take dumb penalties, be better on the PK and be more simple on the power play, put everything on net.
"I mean Flodell didn't look like the first two games, so if we shoot and go to the net we will have opportunities, we will have chances."
Notable: Lamb and Flodell each made 25 saves . . . Defenceman Alex Alexeyev returned to the Red Deer lineup for the first time since suffering an upper body injury in February and picked up an assist on Pawlenchuk's goal . . . Selected as the three stars were (1) Addison, (2) Reichel and (3) Bellerive.
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