By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The question facing the Everett Silvertips on Friday night was how they would respond to playoff adversity.
Twice the Tips took early leads in their road games against the Kelowna Rockets. Twice they lost those leads and ultimately the games. And they returned home with the series tied and momentum in their opponents’ hands. Would the Tips respond, or would they fold?
Friday the Tips not only responded, they sent the message that they’re still the higher seed in the series.
Everett buried the memories of the previous two defeats with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Kelowna in Game 5 at Comcast Arena.
“The boys were fired up before the game,” said Everett goaltender Kent Simpson who, on his 18th birthday, turned away all 21 shots he faced. “We knew it was going to be a big game and everyone came out and played well, which was really good to see.”
Tyler Maxwell scored twice and Dan Iwanski and Shane Harper each added goals as Everett took a 3-2 series lead. The Tips can finish off the series with a victory in Game 6 tonight in Kelowna.
The Tips served notice from the opening puck drop that they weren’t discouraged from the previous two defeats. Even with two top defensemen out injured — Radko Gudas and Chris de la Lande both sat out with upper-body injuries — the Tips came out flying and banging, with Harper leading the hit parade. Maxwell scored just one minute into the game, and the Tips were in control the rest of the way.
“We were pretty pumped up coming home,” said Maxwell, who scored his first two goals of the playoffs after potting 33 during the regular season. “I think we use the fans’ excitement as energy and we came out strong, had a good start and just went from there.”
Quick starts have been an Everett hallmark during the series. Everett scored the first goal in all five games, and in each of the past three the Tips opened the scoring within two minutes.
In Games 3 and 4 in Kelowna the Tips built two-goal leads in the first period, only to watch them melt away. On Friday Everett made sure the Rockets weren’t going to get back into the game, winning the races to loose pucks and winning the battles along the boards.
“I think when we went into the room (for intermissions) we just wanted to maintain our focus,” Maxwell explained about Everett’s ability to hold the lead Friday. “We did all the little things right to make sure we held onto this one.”
Everett also solved its problems on the penalty kill, at least for one game. Kelowna converted four of its five power plays into goals in Games 3 and 4. But the Tips held the Rockets to 0-for-3 Friday and even picked up a short-handed goal. Maxwell’s short-handed breakaway midway through the second period made it 3-0 to give Everett breathing room.
“That was definitely something we keyed on,” Simpson said of the penalty kill. “The PK stepped up tonight. It was really good. They knew it was a job we had to get done.”
Mark Guggenberger finished with 29 saves in goal for Kelowna.
For the third straight game Everett found the net within two minutes of the opening puck drop. This time Rasmus Rissanen’s shot from the point rebounded into the slot, where Maxwell spun a shot around Guggenberger to give Everett a 1-0 lead 1:00 into the game.
This time the Tips held the lead through the first period, then extended it in the second. Iwanski made it 2-0 2:01 into the second, putting in a rebound when Guggenberger could only block Ryan Murray’s slap shot from the point.
Then Everett’s much-maligned penalty kill turned the tables, scoring itself to give the Tips some breathing room. Maxwell intercepted an Antoine Corbin pass at his own blue line and sprinted off on a breakaway. Maxwell made a move to his backhand and his shot got through Guggenberger, making it 3-0 at 11:00.
Everett ended any thoughts of a comeback with a power-play goal 32 seconds into the third period. Zack Dailey, filling in on defense because of the injuries, took a slap shot from the point. Guggenberger made the initial save, but Harper forced home the rebound to make it 4-0.
Silvertips 4, Rockets 0
Kelowna000 — 0
Everett121 — 4
First Period — 1, Everett, Maxwell 1 (Rissanen), 1:00. Penalties — Harper, Everett (holding), 7:26; Callahan Kel (high sticking), 12:43; McMillan, Kelowna (roughing), 19:26; L. Bloodoff, Kelowna (roughing), 19:26; Dailey, Everett (roughing), 19:26; Rissanen, Everett (roughing), 19:26.
Second Period — 2, Everett, Iwanski 2 (Murray, MacDonald), 2:01. 3, Everett, Maxwell 2, 11:00 (sh). Penalties — Barrie, Kelowna (roughing), 2:43; Harper, Everett (interference), 2:43; Tochkin, Everett (interference), 4:59; Rissanen, Everett (slashing), 9:02; McColgan, Kelowna (roughing), 19:38.
Third Period — 4, Everett, Harper 5 (Langkow, Dailey), 0:32 (pp). Penalties — Corbin, Kelowna (high sticking), 2:25; McColgan, Kelowna (hooking-fighting), 5:11; Tochkin, Everett (fighting), 5:11; Callahan, Kelowna (10-minute misconduct), 6:26; Jobke, Kelowna (roughing), 18:43.
Shots on goal — Kelowna 10-7-4—21. Everett 13-12-8 — 33. Power-play opportunities — Kelowna 0 of 3. Everett 1 of 5.
Goalies — Kelowna, Guggenberger 2-1 (33 shots, 29 saves). Everett, Simpson 2-1 (21 shots, 21 saves).
A — 4,361.
Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog: http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog