Winnipeg defenceman Nick Cicek scored the game-winner with 5:14 left in the third period, as the Winnipeg Blues evened up their series with the Steinbach Pistons with a 3-1 Game 4 victory.
The Pistons controlled play for much of the game, outshooting the Blues 35-19 in the game. Blues goalie Jeremy Link was the difference for Winnipeg once again, making 34 saves for the victory. Matthew Thiessen didn’t see much action in this one, as he stopped 16 shots in the loss.
The Blues got the majority of the scoring chances in the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Pistons weathered an early storm and held them scoreless in the first period. Steinbach outshot Winnipeg 10-6, but there was no score after 20 minutes of play.
The Pistons jumped out to the lead early in the second frame, when on an odd-man rush saw Bradley Schoonbaert take a shot which Link stopped. A gigantic rebound bounced right to Daniel McKitrick, who made no mistake to put the puck in the net. The goal is McKitrick’s 3rd of the postseason from Schoonbaert and Drew Worrad at the 3:53 mark of the second period.
After Braden Purtill took a slashing penalty, the Blues scored on their only quality chance of the second period as Brendan Bartlett moved into the slot and ripped a shot past Thiessen to tie it up. Levi Cudmore and Dexter Kuczek picked up the helpers on the Bartlett goal at 8:29.
From then on, the Pistons poured on the pressure to grab the lead back but Link and the Blues defense bended but did not break, as the ice was tilted for much of the second and third period towards the Blues zone.
Late in the third, the Blues broke into the Pistons zone and Dexter Kuczek threw a shot at the right pad of Thiessen. The big rebound popped out to Cicek, who put it home to give the Blues the lead late. Cudmore also picked up the second assist on Cicek’s first of the playoffs.
All Pistons hopes were dashed with two minutes to go, as Bradley Schoonbaert took a controversial goaltender interference penalty. It looked like Link initiated the contact by coming out of the blue paint as Schoonbaert flew by to screen him, but a penalty was called nonetheless.
Devon Skoleski added an empty-netter late to give Winnipeg the 3-1 win.
– Steinbach will be without Austin Heidemann for the remainder of the series. The Pistons forward was recently suspended 4 games by the MJHL for his hit on Blues forward Codey Behun during Game 3. Behun did not play in Game 4, and will likely not be available for the Blues for the remainder of the series.
– Both the Blues and Pistons are undefeated at home this postseason. The Pistons are 4-0 at the TG Smith Centre, while the Blues are 5-0 at the BellMTS Iceplex
The Pistons went 0 for 4 on the power play, while the Blues went 2 for 4 on their man advantages.
UP NEXT: Game 5 will take place at the TG Smith Centre on Thursday, with the puck drop scheduled for 7:30 pm. You can get your tickets for that game right now by logging on to Steinbachpistons.ca.