The Oil Kings were down 2-0 in the series and 2-0 in game 3 that was just 3:30 old. It wasn't looking good for the 3 time Eastern Conference champions and one might have wondered why Head Coach Derek Laxdall wouldn't call a time out???
The bench boss said post game he wanted to see if his club would sink or swim, and while at times it looked like a dod paddle, they finally smoothed out the stroke and looked like the team that hasn't yet lost on Rexall ice in the playoffs.
Their strategy seemed simple, get shots on Corbin Boes. Make him make saves and beat you. It worked as the home side fired 19 shots at Portland's pipe man and while they still trailed after 20 minutes, they skated off the ice feeling good about their push back.
In the middle frame Henrik Samuelsson put away a pretty pass from Curtis Lazar to get the Kings on the board. Then just after a Samuelsson penalty, Luke Bertolucci- known more for his checking ability - snuck in on a breakaway. After being pushed down by Matt Dumba he regained control and with more moves then Michael Jackson scored a Thriller on Corbin Boes tying the game at 2.
From there Edmonton was forced to deal with some adversity. One a Griffin Reinhart penalty kill. I was really impressed with the captain's composure in handling the penalty and I think that calmness spread throughout the team. Also a disallowed Samuelsson goal review that took forever and momentum.
The point is they got through it all and Edgars Kulda scored the go ahead goal for the team's first lead of the series, one they wouldn't give up despite a furious push from Portland down the stretch. The Hawks are a team that makes you think they can score every time they have the puck when they have a man advantage, and Matt Dumba had a point blank chance to tie it up but fired high and wide.
The win gives Edmonton belief that they can compete after Portland mostly dominated games one and two, and for the Hawks you know they'll be charged up even more for game 4 Wednesday night.