Everett bowed out of the 2010-11 season quietly Thursday night, falling 6-2 to the Portland Winterhawks before a second straight small crowd of 2,420 at Comcast Arena.
The victory gave top-seeded Portland a four-game sweep of eighth-seeded Everett in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series.
“It's obviously disappointing,” Everett defenseman Ryan Murray said. “That's not how we wanted to end things. There's not much to say. I thought we had a strong first period, but then we just kind of let things go. It's just kind of been like that all year for us. We didn't step up to the challenge.”
Portland took advantage of an Everett meltdown at the start of the second period, scoring three times in the first five minutes to turn the game into a 5-1 laugher. The teams just played out the string from there.
“It was very disappointing,” Everett coach Craig Hartsburg said. “We had a really energetic start, but we found a way to self-destruct at the last part of the first period. We were still in the hockey game, but we came out in the second period and we didn't put up much of a fight.
“I liked our young kids,” Hartsburg continued. “I thought our young guys battled hard all night long. For me in this game, I'll try to remember the positive thing that those young kids played their hearts out. That's probably a good thing going forward.”
The defeat ended a lost season for Everett. The Tips, who tied for the best record in the Western Conference last season, envisioned competing for the U.S. Division title. However, Everett stumbled into the conference's final playoff spot and were no match for the high-powered Winterhawks, who outscored the Tips 22-8 in the series. Everett gave Portland a run for its money in a 5-4 defeat in Wednesday's Game 3, but the Tips capitulated after falling behind Thursday.
“They were way too good for us,” Hartsburg said. “There's no sense trying to make excuses, they were too good. They were too skilled, too big, too strong and have too much character — and they're well coached.”
The line of Craig Cunningham, Sven Bartschi and Ty Rattie terrorized the Tips throughout Thursday's game. Cunningham and Bartschi scored the first two goals during the decisive second-period barrage.
Taylor Peters, Riley Boychuk, Joe Morrow and Brad Ross scored the other goals for Portland. Mac Carruth earned the win in goal, making 31 saves.
Portland advances to the second round, where the Winterhawks will face either Kelowna or Chilliwack. Chilliwack needs to overcome a 3-1 series deficit against Spokane to advance and face Portland.
And when the second round begins the Winterhawks will be well rested after quickly dispatching the Tips.
“Any time you win in four games it's important because you get a little bit of rest before the next series,” Portland coach Mike Johnston said. “Last year we had that tough series with Spokane (in the first round) that went seven games, and when we entered the Vancouver series it really played a factor early on. We lost the first two games and had to try and scramble from behind, and that's really hard.”
Jari Erricson and Manraj Hayer scored the goals for Everett. Luke Siemens, who played every minute of the series in goal for the Tips in place of injured No. 1 Kent Simpson, made 38 saves.
Everett started the game well, and the Tips scored first 5 minutes, 22 seconds into the game. Tyler Giebel made a nice drag move to get to the front of the net, and although he wasn't able to get his shot off, Erricson was on hand to jam the loose puck past Carruth to make it 1-0.
But Portland struck twice late in the first to take the lead. First, at 16:28, Peters put his shot off the post, but the rebound deflected in off traffic to tie it up. Then at 18:51 the Winterhawks struck on a five-on-three power play, Boychuk's redirect in front finishing off a quick passing move to make it 2-1.
It was all downhill for the Tips from there as a series of breakdowns early in the second essentially ended Everett's season. Rasmus Rissanen's turnover behind his own goal allowed Rattie to make a blind backhand pass across the crease to set up Cunningham just 45 seconds into the period. A misjudged pinch by defenseman Nick Walters gave Portland a two-on-one, which Bartschi finished off from Cunningham at 4:10. Then Siemens was beaten clean by Morrow's shot from the point at 4:39 as the Winterhawks took an unassailable 5-1 lead.
“I don't feel we, as a whole, put our best foot forward,” Murray said. “I think we obviously could have played better. But they are an excellent hockey team over there, they have a lot of character. They definitely deserved to win the series.”
Everett captain Landon Ferraro received a major penalty for cross checking and a game misconduct for an incident following the second-period horn. ... Former Silvertip winger Matt Ius, a late-season addition to Portland's roster, made his series debut for the Winterhawks. ... There was an unusual sight above the east end of the ice. A large bank of speakers and lights, set up for today's Acquire the Fire concert, was suspended above the end Everett defends twice. The hanging of the speakers and lights were part of the agreement that allowed the Tips to host Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Thursday instead of Tuesday and Wednesday. ... The game was delayed briefly early in the first period when Winterhawks winger Riley Boychuk's hit on Walters caused a panel of glass pop out of its frame.
Winterhawks 6, Silvertips 2
Portland 2 4 0 — 6
Everett 1 1 0 — 2
First Period—1, Everett, Erricson 1 (Giebel, Hayer), 5:22. 2, Portland, Peters 1 (Leipsic, Wotherspoon), 16:28. 3, Portland, Boychuk 2 (Niederreiter, Bartschi), 18:51 (pp). Penalties—Boychuk, Portland (roughing), 14:14; Walters, Everett (interference), 14:14; McCrea, Everett (roughing), 14:14; Birkholz, Everett (cross checking), 16:52; Rissanen, Everett (tripping), 18:32.
Second Period—4, Portland, Cunningham 3 (Rattie, Bartschi), 0:45. 5, Portland, Bartschi 2 (Cunningham, Rattie), 4:10. 6, Portland, Morrow 1 (Rutkowski, Ross), 4:39. 7, Everett, Hayer 1 (Erricson, Suer), 10:08. 8, Portland, Ross 4 (Johansen, Niederreiter), 16:57. Penalties—Eviston, Portland (cross checking), 6:37; Ius, Portland (roughing), 6:37; Rutkowski, Portland (roughing), 6:37; Murray, Everett (roughing), 6:37; Yadlowski, Everett (roughing), 6:37; Boychuk, Portland (roughing), 20:00; Aronson, Portland (10-minute misconduct), 20:00; Ferraro, Everett (major-cross checking-game misconduct), 20:00; Fowlie, Everett (10-minute misconduct), 20:00.
Third Period—no goals. Penalties—Eviston, Portland (holding), 19:41.
Shots on goal—Portland 13-12-19—44. Everett 7-17-9—33. Power-play opportunities—Portland 1 of 4. Everett 0 of 3.
Goalies—Portland, Carruth 4-0 (33 shots, 31 saves). Everett, Siemens 0-4 (44 shots, 38 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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