The Tips took one on the chin tonight.
Everett is transitioning into playing an offensive style, but no one plays that way better than the Winterhawks, and Portland taught the Tips a lesson in this one. The eight-goal defeat was Everett’s worst of the season, coming just 24 hours after the Tips scored a season-high seven goals.
Portland, which has won 14 straight and 33 of 35, just plays the game at a completely different level. The Winterhawks are so fast and precise with their attacks, and Everett had no answer for that tonight. Everett’s goaltenders weren’t one bit at fault for the result. The Tips didn’t slow Portland down at all, and they just aren’t ready to trade scoring chances with the Winterhawks yet.
The game didn’t start out a mismatch, as it was just 1-0 after the first period. But Portland grabbed control in the second, going ahead 4-0, and then it got out of control in the third as the Tips fell apart. How bad was it for Everett? Late in the second the Tips had a lengthy five-on-three power play. During that five-on-three the Winterhawks outchanced Everett 2-0 as Portland got a breakaway and a good chance on a three-on-two. Can’t say I’ve ever seen anything quite like that before during a five-on-three.
As I wrote last night, it’s going to be an interesting final two months of the season watching the Tips attempting to change their playing style. And just as Friday’s game showed what can happen to a team playing this way when things go right, tonight’s game showed what can happen when things go wrong.
Portland was the better team from the start, but it was the beginning of the second period when the gulf between the teams truly materialized.
First star: Troy Rutkowski, Portland. Two goals and one assist, lethal from the point on the power play.
Second star: Brendan Leipsic, Portland. One goal and one assist, did his damage while the game was still something of a contest.
Third star: Ty Rattie, Portland. Three assists, quietly put points on the board.
The Herald’s honorable mention: Take your pick between Portland Nicolas Petan (one goal, two assists) and Brendan Burke (31 saves), who both were good enough to be among the top three.