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Bittner scores twice as Winterhawks open WHL final by beating Oil Kings 5-2

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Paul Bittner scored two goals and Nicolas Petan added three assists as the Portland Winterhawks took Game 1 of the Western Hockey League final with a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Keegan Iverson, Chase De Leo and Mathew Dumba also scored for Portland while goaltender Corbin Boes made 31 saves for the win.

Brett Pollock and Henrik Samuelsson supplied the goals for the Oil Kings as Tristan Jarry stopped 31 shots in a losing effort.

"It was a good first game from our perspective," said Portland head coach Mike Johnston. "Offensively, we created good chances."

Edmonton earned three power plays in the first period to Portland's none, but it was the Winterhawks who got off to a fast start.

Iverson scored 2:20 into the first period to put Portland up 1-0, a score that held until the Winterhawks added two goals in the final two minutes of the period.

Bittner's goal with 1:53 left in period was followed by De Leo's strike 57 seconds later to put Portland up 3-0 through 20 minutes.

"Three power plays we don't connect on, and then we give up three goals on simple breakdowns in our structure," said Oil Kings coach Derek Laxdal. "When we made a mistake, they capitalized."

The Oil Kings responded, though, as Pollock scored his team-leading 11th goal of the post-season to put Edmonton on the board 20 seconds into the second period. Samuelsson scored exactly two minutes later to make it 3-2.

"I felt that our bench was OK because we've been through this in the playoffs," Johnston said of his team absorbing a quick blow from Edmonton. "We talk a lot about handling momentum, both capturing it and breaking it."

Less than a minute after Jarry made three spectacular saves in a massive goalmouth scramble, Dumba's power-play goal with 37 seconds left in the second rebuilt Portland's lead to 4-2. Bittner added his second of the game with a long wrist shot early in the third that trickled over Jarry's glove.

"A couple good plays from my teammates to get me the puck," said Bittner, who doubled his playoff goal total to four. "I didn't even know that second one went in, so it was a couple lucky bounces for me."

Portland played without veteran forward Brendan Leipsic, a linemate of Bittner's who was suspended for one game for a spearing major in the Winterhawks' previous game against Kelowna. Leipsic has 12 goals and 27 points in 14 games this post-season.

Edmonton went scoreless on four power play chances in the game, while Portland finished 1 for 5 with the man advantage.

"We didn't come in expecting to win every game," said Edmonton captain Griffin Reinhart. "It's going to be a good series and these two teams are here for a reason."

The Oil Kings and Winterhawks are meeting in the WHL final for the third straight season. Edmonton won in seven games in 2012, while Portland took the championship series in six games last season.

Portland is appearing in its fourth consecutive league final, the first WHL team to do so since the New Westminster Bruins played in four straight from 1975-78.

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