Everett came oh so close to ending the WHL’s longest winning streak since the Tips entered the league in 2003. However, Everett had to settle for a point in a valiant effort.
Everett was playing its third game in three nights, and the Tips didn’t get in from Kennewick until 4:00 a.m. because of snow in the pass. What awaited Everett was a Portland team that had won 19 straight and hadn’t really played a competitive game since Jan. 12 as the Winterhawks annihilated the competition, including Everett four times.
But the Tips went toe-to-toe with the Winterhawks through two scoreless periods — holding Portland to a season-low four shots on goal in the second — and they took the lead just seven seconds into the third. Portland dominated play the rest of the way, outshooting Everett 22-4 in the third period and OT, and the Tips were holding onto their point by their fingernails by the end. Even the shootout was close as a video review was required to confirm that the final attempt in the shootout didn’t cross the line. Instead, Portland won it’s milestone 20th straight, which is an unbelievable achievement.
The point for the shootout loss against the streaking Winterhawks was gravy for Everett on what turned out to be a fantastic weekend, as the Tips took five of a possible six points from a daunting-looking three-in-three. Everett now has moved back within one point of Vancouver for sixth place in the Western Conference with two games in hand.
After Everett scored, Portland coach Mike Johnston decided to load up one line, putting Oliver Bjorkstrand alongside Nicolas Petan and Brendan Leipsic, and double-shifting that line. Those three terrorized the Tips the rest of the way and combined on the goal that tied it midway through the third.
First star: Austin Lotz, Everett. 37 saves, did the bulk of his work in the third period and overtime.
Second star: Bjorkstrand. One goal and the shootout winner, he was hands down the best player on the ice.
Third star: Corbin Boes, Portland. 23 saves, stopped all three Everett attempts in the shootout.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Hard to pick out one player in this one, but I think Everett’s Remi Laurencelle deserves a mention. This weekend he played at a level we’d yet to see since his arrival just before the trade deadline.