The first and third periods tonight were pretty evenly played. But in the second period the Winterhawks went into a sprint and played like the team that won the Scotty Munro Trophy for the league’s best record, while the Tips took a nap. A 1-1 tie turned into a commanding 5-1 lead as Portland sliced through the Everett defense time and time again.
Everett tried to get back into the game in the third period and cut the deficit to 5-3. But an awful goal brought any Everett momentum to a screeching halt (see below).
Portland’s top line was something special tonight, particularly in the second period. It looked as though Nicolas Petan, Ty Rattie and Brendan Leipsic, who combined for 350 points during the regular season, took it upon themselves to take control in the second. A slick passing move in transition between the three resulted in the tiebreaking goal, and that line had shifts where they kept the Tips hemmed in for an eternity.
Everett made a goalie change to begin the third period, bringing in Daniel Cotton for Austin Lotz. Frankly, I don’t think there was much Lotz could have done in the second, and Everett interim coach Garry Davidson said afterward that the move was made to try and spark the team, not because he blamed Lotz for the goals.
The Tips were also dealt a major blow in the second period when center Manraj Hayer suffered a broken finger blocking a Seth Jones shot. Davidson described the chances of Hayer playing this weekend as “slim and none.”
Portland now leads the best-of-seven series 2-1, with Game 4 Friday in Everett.
The real turning point was the one-sided second period, but that moment in the third needs to be mentioned. Everett scored twice in 21 seconds early in the third to cut the deficit to 5-3 and get some excitement back into the building. The Tips were energized, but just 48 seconds later Portland’s Derrick Pouliot gained the red line and lofted the puck high into the air so the Winterhawks could get a line change. Cotton camped under it, but the puck glanced off his glove and dropped just over the goal line. That killed any chance of an Everett comeback.
First star: Petan. Two goals and two assists, both his goals came at crucial junctures.
Second star: Leipsic. One goal and two assists, great feeds to set up Portland’s first two goals.
Third star: Dawson Leedahl, Everett. Two goals, nearly matched his season total of three. He found the finishes that were missing during the regular season.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Rattie. One goal, that line was buzzing.
Portland 7, Everett 3
Game 1: Everett 4, Portland 3
Game 2: Portland 4, Everett 1
Game 3: Portland 7, Everett 3 (Portland leads series 2-1)
Game 4: Portland at Everett, Friday, 7:35 p.m.
Game 5: Everett at Portland, Saturday, 7 p.m.
Game 6 (if necessary): Portland at Everett, Monday, 7:05 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): Everett at Portland, Wednesday, April 3, 7 p.m.