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Wilson’s two goals lead Pistons past Blues

Mark Wilson scored two power play goals, and Bradley Schoonbaert notched the game-winner in the beginning of the third as the Steinbach Pistons withstood a great performance by Winnipeg Blues goaltender Jeremy Link to win 3-1 Friday night.
Link stopped 49 of 52 shots in the loss, and Matthew Thiessen continues to roll in these 2018 playoffs by grabbing his 3rd win in 3 games with a 26 save performance. With the win, the Pistons open the best-of-7 with a 1-0 series lead.
“It doesn’t happen very often, but it felt nice to get a couple in the back of the net,” Wilson said after the game. “I’ve kind of had a passing mentality the last couple of games, but today I was just focusing on shooting the puck and it worked out tonight.”
The Pistons spent the last week preparing for a Blues team that came off an impressive first round series win over the three-time defending champion Portage Terriers. Both teams felt each other out through the first 20 minutes of the game, which meant that neither team scored after the first period.
The Pistons turned up the heat on Link and the Blues defense in the second, but no goals went past the Blues netminder. The Blues ran into penalty problems with under 7 minutes left in the period, giving the Pistons a 5-on-3 PP opportunity. Head Coach Paul Dyck said that the power play needed to break out in this series, and Wilson fired one in past a screened Link to give the Pistons a 1-0 lead. Drew Worrad and Braden Purtill added the helpers on Wilson’s first of the playoffs with 4:54 left.
The Blues responded shortly after as Brendan Bartlett took a huge hit by Brady Tatro in the neutral zone, but made the play up to Dexter Kuczek. He fed it to Levi Cudmore, who snapped it past Thiessen to tie the game up with just over 3 minutes remaining in the period. It was tied at 1 after 40 minutes of play.
The Pistons came out on a mission, and Schoonbaert gave the Pistons the lead for good just 48 seconds into the third as he outwaited Link to score. It was his 3rd of the playoffs from Worrad and Austin Heidemann. Wilson concluded the scoring for the Pistons after a great chance at the side from Braden Purtill. His shoot-first mentality paid off as he slapped a shot past Link on the PP. Schoonbaert and Purtill drew the assists at 6:43 of the third period.
Winnipeg pushed to get back in the game, but Thiessen and the rock-solid Pistons defensive play stymied them in the third. “I thought that we finished out the game real strong,” Wilson said. “We’ll celebrate this one, but then forget about it and come out strong (in Game 2).”
SPECIAL TEAMS
The Pistons went 2 for 6 on the power play, and killed off all 4 Blues power plays they faced.
UP NEXT: Game 2 takes place on Sunday at 6:30 pm at the BellMTS Iceplex. Game 3 is back at the TG Smith Centre on Tuesday at 7:30 pm, you can get your tickets for that game online at Steinbachpistons.ca.