By Kris Anderson

The Portland Winterhawks said all the right things after blowing a four-goal lead in game four Wednesday in Kamloops: The Blazers' locker room is full of veterans. They'll have short memories. They'll move on.

Maybe the wound was still fresh, though, on Saturday, as Portland failed in its second chance to eliminate the Blazers, losing ugly, 7-2, in the Western Hockey League second-round playoff series at the Rose Garden.

Now, following their worst playoff performance in recent memory, the Hawks head back to Kamloops for game six at 7 p.m. Monday, nursing only a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Portland players said Saturday's home loss was a result of other factors, not a game-four hangover.

“I've talked about it all playoffs, our experience is awesome,” Portland right winger Ty Rattie said. “Going to the (WHL finals) last year is really going to help. We're facing a little adversity right now, but that's what playoff teams are made of. Playoff teams come back from this, and that's what were going to do.”

Rattie, Portland's playoff points leader, was a game-time decision after leaving game four with a neck injury. On Saturday, he was in the lineup, but he clearly labored through three periods, earning one assist.

“There was some pain,” he said. “I didn't play my best tonight.”

Rattie had company, as most of the Hawks' lineup was mediocre. The Winterhawks trailed 4-1 entering the third period, and on this night, that was insurmountable.

The Blazers scored twice more before the Portland coaches pulled goalie Mac Carruth, who stopped 26 of 32 shots. Kamloops then scored once against back-up Brendan Burke.

No cause for alarm, though. At least that was the message in the Hawks' dressing room after the rout.

“There are going to be off games,” Rattie said. “If you can find a team that can play a 60-minute game every game, they're going to be unbeatable. We're going to put this one in the back seat and start over on Monday.”

Portland will have an eight-hour bus ride to British Columbia to regret not winning game four, which the Hawks led 4-0 in the first period. Meanwhile, the Blazers now seem to believe they can win the series.

In game six, Kamloops will have the confidence, momentum and home-ice advantage. Pressure is now on Portland, right?

“We're going on the road, so now the pressure shifts a little more on (Kamloops),” Portland general manager/coach Mike Johnston said. “They're starting to get back in the series. Now the pressure shifts to them.

“We still have to get better in a couple areas, and that's going to be a critical game up there.”

Winning game six could be a chore for Portland if Kamloops goalie Cam Lanigan performs like he did on Saturday. Goals usually have been a given for the Hawks, but Lanigan stoned quality shot after quality shot, making 34 saves.

“We missed converting on our chances,” Johnston said. “Sometimes earlier in the year goals came easier for us, and we can't let ourselves get frustrated when we don't score or we miss quality scoring chances. I thought we did that tonight. We had some frustration creep into the bench when we were down 2-0 and missed some really good chances.

“Some nights you're going to have to work for your goals.”

Portland center Brendan Leipsic said of Lanigan: “He really stood on his head, but we can't make it easy on him. We have to get traffic to the net and get bodies in front of him and make it harder on him.”

Each team had its chances to score, but only the Blazers could capitalize. They scored three goals before Leipsic netted a crossing pass from Cam Reid in the second period. The goal, however, wouldn't generate needed momentum for the Hawks.

Portland's power play was 0 for 5 on Saturday and is 0 for 10 in the last two games. Johnston said that his unit was much improved from game four, it just couldn't beat Lanigan.

So now the Hawks have to recapture the type of play they exhibited in the first three games of the series. And they'll have to do so by Monday or face a game seven Wednesday night in Portland, something that seemed improbable only days ago.

“We're going to play like the team we are,” Rattie said. “We know we're a really good team. We have it in the dressing room. We know we're a team that can go to the Memorial Cup this year. As long as we play like it, there's no team that can beat us.”