Everett threw everything it had at Portland in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series, but once again it was the Winterhawks' quick-strike offense that proved decisive as Portland outlasted the Tips 5-4 before a sparse crowd at Comcast Arena.
Nino Niederreiter and Ty Rattie scored 13 seconds apart late in the second period as Portland turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead in the blink of an eye.
Everett, which trailed 5-3 late in the game, stormed back, with Rasmus Rissanen's second goal of the contest, pulling the Tips back within one. Everett had some good chances in the dying moments, but were unable to find the tying goal.
“The kids played well,” said Everett coach Craig Hartsburg, who added that his team has improved in each game in the series. “We kind of self-destructed in about three or four minutes there in the second period, but we had a chance right to the end to tie it up. It's unfortunate, but you can't question our kids' effort, and for the most part we executed pretty well.”
Nevertheless, the clock is on the brink of striking midnight on Everett's 2010-11 season. The eighth-seeded Tips trail Portland 3-0 in the best-of-seven series. Only one team in WHL history — Spokane in 1996 — has ever rallied to win a series after trailing 3-0. The Tips will try to mount a last stand in Game 4 tonight at Comcast Arena.
“It's been done before,” said Everett captain Landon Ferraro, who had three assists. “They're going to try and put us away (tonight), but our guys don't want to go home now. We don't want our time in Everett to be done yet.
“I think it's going to be our best game yet (tonight) to make sure we get to Game 5. That's all we're thinking about right now, get to Game 5. We have to make sure we come out just like we did tonight, but clean up our game a bit.”
Sven Bartschi, Brad Ross and Ryan Johansen scored the other goals for Portland, which has made a habit of scoring goals in bunches against Everett this season. Mac Carruth made 34 saves in net for the Winterhawks.
Ryan Murray and Tyler Maxwell potted the other goals for Everett, which doubled its offensive output after managing just two goals in the first two games of the series.
Luke Siemens, again filling in for the injured Kent Simpson in Everett's goal, kept the Tips in it with 45 saves. That included stopping Bartschi on a third-period penalty shot.
Everett, which was out-muscled by Portland in the first two games, came into the contest with the intent of matching the Winterhawks' physical play. It played out like that during an ill-tempered first period where the teams traded goals and borderline hits. The period ended with the score tied 2-2.
The Tips then took their first lead of the series 9:40 into the second period. Everett struggled all season long on the power play, but the Tips got their second power-play goal of the game when Rissanen fired a loose puck through Carruth after pinching in from the point, making it 3-2.
But Portland's quick-fire offense needed just 13 seconds to turn a deficit into a lead. Niederreiter scored from close in during a delayed penalty to tie it up at the 17:14 mark. After the ensuing faceoff, the Winterhawks took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone with Bartschi setting up Rattie on the rush to give Portland a sudden lead.
“We can take advantage of miscues and we did it quickly, two in a row,” Portland coach Mike Johnston said. “I thought we were good in the offensive zone, but not great today. We turned over a couple pucks and gave them transition opportunities. But we have some guys on our team who can score.”
Johansen looked like he put the game away at 14:00 of the third period when he scored an NHL-caliber goal, putting a backhander at full speed into the top of the net, despite having Ferraro draped all over him.
But Rissanen struck again at 18:29. With Siemens pulled for an extra attacker, Rissanen's shot from the point got through a screened Carruth to make it a one-goal game again.
Everett had some more chances in the closing moments, including a clean look in the slot for Rissanen as he tried for his hat trick. However, Carruth gloved Rissanen's shot, and the Tips were unable to get the tying goal.
“We had a couple really good chances at the end,” Ferraro said. “Then with 18 seconds left I lose that draw clean, where I have to keep it at my feet at least and give our guys a chance to get another shot on net. I thought we had it, I thought we were going to get it for sure, it seemed like our night and I thought we were going to pull it out.”
Instead the Silvertips are left clinging to their season by a thread.
Winterhawks 5, Silvertips 4
Portland 2 2 1 — 5
Everett 2 1 1 — 4
First Period—1, Portland, Bartschi 1, 4:21. 2, Everett, Murray 1 (Maxwell, Ferraro), 14:41. 3, Portland, Ross 3 (Niederreiter), 15:08 (pp). 4, Everett, Maxwell 2 (Ferraro, Birkholz), 19:18 (pp). Penalties—Ferraro, Everett (goaltender interference), 0:36; Yadlowski, Everett (tripping), 7:20; Ross, Portland (checking from behind), 13:01; Rissanen, Everett (interference), 13:43; Wrenn, Portland (interference), 18:53.
Second Period—5, Everett, Rissanen 1 (Birkholz, Murray), 9:40 (pp). 6, Portland, Niederreiter 3 (Bartschi, Cunningham), 17:14. 7, Portland, Rattie 1 (Bartschi, Rutkowski), 17:27.
Third Period—8, Portland, Johansen 2 (Ross, Morrow), 14:00. 9, Everett, Rissanen 2 (Murray, Ferraro), 18:29. Penalties—Jordan, Portland (cross checking), 14:09; Rutkowski, Portland (slashing), 17:45; Giebel, Everett (slashing), 17:45.
Shots on goal—Portland 16-19-15—50. Everett 12-7-19—38. Power-play opportunities—Portland 1 of 4. Everett 2 of 5.
Goalies—Portland, Carruth 3-0 (38 shots, 34 saves). Everett, Siemens 0-3 (50 shots, 45 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson's Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.
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