Blades score twice in third period to hand Raiders a bitter 2-0 loss

The Saskatoon Blades outlasted the Prince Albert Raiders on Friday night, winning 2-0 at the SaskTel Centre. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

It took until the 12:17 mark of the third period to find a goal between the Raiders and Blades on Friday night, as Saskatoon scored twice in the final frame to shutout Prince Albert 2-0 at the SaskTel Centre. Tikhon Chaika stopped 22 of 24 shots in the loss, while Nolan Maier picked up his third shutout of the season, turning aside all 20 shots thrown his way.

“We made some blunders tonight on special teams,” head coach Marc Habscheid said. “We have chances to ice the puck, and we’re stick handling and trying to score goals when we’re killing a penalty. We don’t need to score goals when we’re killing a penalty. We just need to kill the penalties, and it ended up costing us.”

It was a feeling out process for much of the first period, with both teams generating few chances in the offensive zone. Nolan Allan took the lone penalty in the first period, but the Blades were unable to make good on their powerplay. Towards the end of the first, both teams started taking a physical approach to the game. Sloan Stanick laid a big hit on Mishka Volotovskii that highlighted the physicality in the opening frame, but both sides entered the second period with no score.

The only things that changed on the scoreboard in the second period were the shots and penalties added. Another scoreless frame made things a little more tense for the Raiders, who sure would have liked to head into the third period with a lead. They had their own chance late in the second on the powerplay to score the icebreaker, but like the Blades, failed to do so.

Prince Albert also killed off a pair of penalties of their own in the middle frame keeping things scoreless. Chaika was the busier of the two goaltenders after 40 minutes, as the Blades went into the third holding a 16-14 edge in shots.

The Raiders fought with fire one too many times in the third period, as the Blades scored a powerplay goal on their sixth man advantage of the contest. With Tayem Gislason in the box serving a double minor for high sticking, Egor Sidorov finally found the game’s opening goal with 7:43 left in the third.

After Vaughn Watterodt chipped a shot on goal from beside the net, the rebound came out front after Chaika made the initial save. Sidorov jumped on the loose puck and tucked a backhand shot past Chaika’s toe on the far side. The marker midway through the final frame forced the Raiders to attempt a late comeback bid, as they went down 1-0.

Trevor Wong put the nail in the coffin with 1:59 left in regulation, capitalizing on another rebound chance in front.  After making an incredible save on an initial shot, Chaika was down and out on his belly as the puck sat in front of him. Wong jumped on the loose puck and roofed a backhand shot over Chaika, putting the Blades up by a pair. The 2-0 Saskatoon lead snuffed out any chance of a late answer from P.A. with only two minutes left.

“We were just trying to score,” Habscheid said about the approach to the third period after a scoreless 40 minutes. “We had a chance on the powerplay and we took a bad penalty that took us off the powerplay and put (Saskatoon) on one. It was just senseless.”

Maier was able to shut the door the rest of the way for the Blades. The win means Maier now sits alone at the top for the most WHL regular season wins with 121.

Prince Albert is back in action on Saturday night against the Pats in Regina.

Around the WHL

The Raiders got some help around the league on Friday night, as they weren’t the only team fighting for a playoff spot that lost.

The Regina Pats beat the Swift Current Broncos 4-2, meaning Prince Albert still only trails Swift by two points for the eighth seed. The Broncos have 59 points while the Raiders have 57.

The Red Deer Rebels beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes 5-4 in overtime as well. With the single point in the loss, the ‘Canes were able to gain a little extra breathing room. Sitting in seventh place with 65 points, they now have a six point cushion on the Broncos.

The Calgary Hitmen had the night off. They sit one point ahead of Prince Albert with 58 points.