EVERETT — Everything went right for Austin Lotz on Friday night.
Even when things went wrong.
The Everett Silvertips goaltender made a diving stop to deny Tri-City Americans sniper Brian Williams on a breakaway in the second period of a one-goal game, sprawling out completely to stop a player who’s been scorching the net of late.
However, that sprawl may not have been completely intentional.
“I told myself, ‘Don’t fall over when he cuts across,’ and I fell over when he cut across, so I was a little (mad) at myself,” a laughing Lotz said after registering his second career shutout in Everett’s 2-0 victory Friday night at Comcast Arena. “But I got lucky that he actually shot it at the one place I was covering.”
That was about the only misstep by Lotz on Friday as he turned aside all 29 shots he faced. The biggest of those shots was the breakaway stop on Williams late in the second period with Everett leading 1-0. Williams, who scored eight goals in Tri-City’s previous four games, came in all alone and tried to score around Lotz, but the sprawling Lotz made the stop to preserve Everett’s lead.
Lotz had more work to do in the third, as Lucas Nickles twice came in free. But Lotz made the kick save on the first breakaway attempt with the score still 1-0, then made a snap glove save on the second when it was 2-0.
“I felt really good before the game and I just kept repeating to myself to focus on stopping the puck, and it worked out for me,” Lotz said.
Jujhar Khaira and Carson Stadnyk scored the goals for Everett (3-1-0-0), which won in a substantially different fashion than it did in its previous two wins. The Tips put big numbers on the scoreboard in those two games, both won convincingly. Even in Wednesday’s loss to Kelowna, it was a high-scoring affair in which goaltending was a minor factor.
That wasn’t the case Friday as every single one of Lotz’s saves proved crucial.
“The boys were working hard today,” Lotz said. “We knew we had some redemption to do tonight after our shaky game a couple nights ago, so we’re pretty happy about it.
“This was more of a defensive battle,” Lotz added. “Both teams were pretty sharp out there. Neither of the goals we scored were bad goals, they were nice plays. Both teams were playing pretty well tonight.”
Eric Comrie, who’s the same age as Lotz and was selected in the second round of this year’s NHL draft by the Winnipeg Jets, made 24 saves in net for Tri-City (2-4-0-1).
“I know Eric, so we have a healthy competition,” said Lotz, who was passed over in the NHL draft. “It’s always nice to come on the winning side of things when we play each other. But it doesn’t really matter who you play against, you have to focus on the players coming at you, not the other goalie.”
Tri-City just missed taking the lead during an early first-period power play as Williams hit the post. Then Everett opened the scoring at 12 minutes, 30 seconds. Joshua Winquist saw just the hint of a lane, then proceeded to stickhandle his way all the way up the ice before backhanding a pass for the trailing Khaira to put away, giving the Tips a 1-0 lead. Everett could have doubled its lead late in the period, but Tyler Sandhu put a loose puck off the post with the corner open.
It remained 1-0 through the second period, but not for a lack of chances. Everett had several good scoring chances during the first 10 minutes of the period. Khaira was all alone in front, but tried to get too cute. Then Winquist rapped the underside of the crossbar. Tri-City then had a golden chance to tie it when Lotz made his big save on Williams.
Lotz denied Nickles early in the third, and the Tips finally found the second goal shortly after. On Everett’s only power play of the game, Kharia fired wide from the slot on a one-timer. The rebound came off the back boards to Stadnyk, who backhanded it into the top of the net to give Everett a two-goal cushion.
Silvertips 2, Americans 0
First Period—1, Everett, Khaira 2 (Winquist, Bajkov), 12:30. Penalties—Low, Everett (interference), 3:47.
Second Period—No goals. Penalties—none.
Third Period—2, Everett, Stadnyk 2 (Khaira, Winquist), 6:53 (pp). Penalties—Gelinas, Tri-City (hooking), 5:30; Adam, Everett (holding), 13:35.
Shots on goal—Tri-City 8-6-15—29. Everett 5-12-9—26. Power-play opportunities—Tri-City 0 of 2. Everett 1 of 1.
Goalies—Tri-City, E. Comrie 2-4-0-1 (26 shots, 24 saves). Everett, Lotz 2-1-0-0 (29 shots, 29 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.