There’s one big talking point about this game with regards to Everett: the power play.
Frankly, Everett’s power play was more of a hinderance than a help tonight. Everett had six full chances and not only went 0-for-6, but I’m not sure a true quality scoring chance was created. Meanwhile, Portland had all kinds of chances while short-handed, with goaltender Austin Lotz having to bail the Tips out on several occasions. Frankly, it was a miracle Everett didn’t give up a short-handed goal tonight. Portland’s penalty kill deserves some of the credit for this. But a lot of the issues on the power play were mindless things by the Tips: dumping the puck into the zone with no one heading into the zone with speed; careless no-look passes along the blue line; skating the puck into the zone only to immediately end up in an outnumbered board battle five feet from the blue line. It was ugly.
Everett isn’t exactly the league’s most explosive offensive team. The Tips need the power play to produce goals in order to be competitive. For the most part it’s been acceptable this season. It was far from acceptable tonight.
The result ended Portland’s four-game losing streak. That’s been replaced by Everett, which now has a four-game skid of its own.
With 2.6 seconds remaining Everett’s Brayden Low took a major penalty for checking to the head. The Tips are already stretched to the limit with four players out injured, and now Low faces the possibility of a suspension.
It’s not often that Brendan Leipsic receives the favor of the officials, as the Portland winger is notorious for his abrasive style and playing on the edge. But he used one official to his full advantage to break tonight’s game open.
Despite Everett’s special teams woes, the score was tied 1-1 with eight minutes remaining. But the Winterhawks won a faceoff in the Everett zone straight to Leipsic. Leipsic used the linesman as a pick on Everett defenseman Ben Betker, giving him a lane to race around the net and put a wraparound attempt over Lotz’s outstretched leg, giving Portland the lead for good. Talking to Leipsic after the game, using the linesman as a pick was intentional.
First star: Leipsic. One goal and one assist, he may not be the most popular player at Comcast Arena, but boy does he keep his feet moving at all times.
Second star: Derrick Pouliot, Portland. One goal and one assist, logged a ton of minutes upon his return from World Juniors.
Third star: Lotz. 25 saves, he can only be asked to bail the team out so many times.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Jujhar Khaira, Everett. One assist, good vision and possessed the puck well.