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Halifax buries Winterhawks with five-goal run

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan — A poor second period by the Portland Winterhawks, featuring too much Nathan MacKinnon, cost the Western Hockey League champions dearly in their first game of the 2013 Memorial Cup.

MacKinnon, a 17-year-old star center, scored three times in a five-goal onslaught in the second period Saturday night, leading the Halifax Mooseheads to a 7-4 win over the Hawks.

MacKinnon and Portland defenseman Seth Jones are considered the top prospects for the NHL draft, and they battled for much of the game.

Jones' rushing goal from short range lifted the Winterhawks into a 1-1 tie 54 seconds after Halifax took the lead at 15:46 of the first period.

The Winterhawks scored twice in the first 2:11 of the second period. Troy Rutkowski gave Portland a 2-1 lead 39 seconds into the frame with a wrist shot from the point, and Ty Rattie knifed through the Halifax defense for a power-play score at 2:11.

But after that, it was all Halifax.

The Mooseheads, getting inside position repeatedly in their first game of the tournament, scored at 3:15 and 4:36 ti tie the game. Power-play goals at 11:17 and 14:03 gave Halifax a 5-3 lead, and MacKinnon's third goal — short-handed at 18:35 — made it a three-goal lead. MacKinnon also gave the Mooseheads' third and fifth goals.

Rutkowski scored again 1:09 into the final period on a power play, but Halifax answered at 5:33, and the teams went scoreless the rest of the way.

Portland goalie Mac Carruth made 28 saves, and Halifax's Zachary Fucale stopped 37 shots.

The Hawks gave Halifax six power plays, while Portland had eight. Each team scored twice with the man advantage.

Announced attendance at Credit Union Centre was 8,771.

"We played real well for about 25 to 27 minutes," Portland coach Travis Green said. "The game got away from us for about 10 minutes there, and they got a couple good bounces. But they are a good team."

Halifax won the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and was ranked No. 1 in the Canadian Hockey League.

"I thought I had a pretty slow first period, but for the next 40 minutes I thought we controlled the play," said MacKinnon, who also had an assist. "I think we deserved to win."

Sunday's game has Halifax against the host Saskatooon Blades, who lost the tourney opener on Friday to London 3-2.

The Winterhawks take the ice again at 5 p.m. PT Monday, facing London.

Portland's final game of the round-robin part of the tourney will be at 5 p.m. PT Wednesday versus Saskatoon.