by John Blanchette

Watch out for teams on the rebound.

Second-chance goals late in the second period by Anthony Bardaro and Levko Koper broke open another close game Friday night and sent Spokane to an 8-3 victory over the Portland Winterhawks, evening their WHL playoff series at two games apiece.

The stunning blowout -- Spokane's first playoff win over Portland at the Spokane Arena in their last six meetings -- sends the Western Conference finals back to the Rose Garden for Game5.

"We've got to play better (Saturday) night," said Portland coach Mike Johnston, "but I thought we rebounded well from our first loss in this series. It'll be good for the players to get right back at it in front of the home crowd."

Spokane's home crowd of 8,412 saw Koper complete his hat trick with a pair of third-period goals. The first of those chased Winterhawks starting goaltender Mac Carruth, who stopped just 22 of 28 shots and surrendered several juicy rebounds.

The other, through backup Keith Hamilton, was Spokane's first power-play goal after a 0-for-19 drought dating back to the series opener in Portland.

But the damaging goals came earlier -- much earlier in one instance. The game was only 10 seconds old when Matt Marantz knocked a rebound shot off Carruth's skate and set the tone for Spokane, which could have been reeling after giving up a late lead and losing Game 3 in overtime.

"I'm not sure why, but I thought there were people doubting whether we could do it or not," said Spokane coach Don Nachbaur. "I know what they're going to give me."

The Winterhawks tied it on a power-play goal by Joe Morrow midway through the first period, and missed two open-net chances before Koper fed Tyler Johnson on a two-on-one for a lead Spokane never surrendered.

Just three minutes into the second period, Spokane's Colin Valcourt squeezed one under Carruth's pads from the left side. A short-handed goal by Tyler Wotherspoon got the Winterhawks close again, but then came the barrage of rebounds.

"You can't expect your goalie to stop everything," said Morrow. "You depend on him and Mac did well, but our defense -- including me -- can't let second opportunities go to the other team. You have to dive, smack at it, anything to get it out of the zone."

Spokane goalie James Reid didn't go the distance, either, but only because Nachbaur decided to pull him out of a ragged third period as penalties piled up -- 60 minutes worth for Portland.

"I thought there were a few head shots that weren't called and any time that doesn't happen it leads to frustration," Johnston said. "But I also thought the officiating was better tonight. We have to be more disciplined for sure."