Pretty typical Everett-Portland game tonight. The Winterhawks had a big edge on the shot clock (47-27, 37-11 during the final two periods) and took advantage of Silvertip mistakes. It’s uncanny the way Portland can suddenly turn one mistake into a wide-open scoring chance. It’s evidence of what speed and skill, the two attributes new Everett general manager Garry Davidson stressed upon his arrival, can do for a team.
The good news for Everett is that goaltender Kent Simpson continued to give evidence he’s found his game. Simpson was excellent tonight and was the main reason why it was a one-goal game with less than four minutes remaining. The past three weeks he’s looked like the Simpson from the second half of last season before he was derailed by his ankle injury.
Victoria beat Prince George tonight, while Seattle lost to Tri-City. That means Everett is now three points out of playoff position. The Royals moved into a tie for seventh with Seattle at 42 points. Everett remained in ninth with 39, while Prince George stayed in 10th with 38.
There were two moments that, to me, weren’t so much turning points as decisive points.
The first came early in the second period. Portland led 1-0, began the second with 1:26 of five-on-three, then immediately got another power play after the five-on-three expired. The Tips killed it all off and were looking to build momentum. However, a misplaced pass by defenseman Lucas Grayson gave Sven Bartschi the chance to dispossess Josh Caron, and Bartschi sent Oliver Gabriel free on goal to make it 2-0.
The second was early in the third. Everett had pulled within 2-1, and Murray sprung Ryan Harrison on a clean breakaway. Harrison made a good attempt, but Mac Carruth made a great glove save to preserve Portland’s lead.
HIT OF THE DAY
Less than two minutes into the game Portland’s Taylor Leier put a good hit on Austin Adam into the boards in the corner, jarring a panel of glass partially out of place.
First star: Simpson. 43 saves, and the Winterhawks had A LOT of quality scoring chances among their 47 shots.
Second star: Carruth. 26 saves, he also had to make some good stops.
Third star: Gabriel. One goal and one assist, he and Bartschi showed what Portland is all about with its ability to create offense quickly.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Bartschi. One goal and one assist, see above.