EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips have played so many nail biters recently, it’s surprising they haven’t nibbled their fingers down to the knuckles.
So Wednesday night the Tips fully enjoyed not having to sweat out the final minutes for a change.
Everett earned its first comfortable victory in nearly two months as the Tips cruised past the Prince Albert Raiders 5-1 at Comcast Arena.
“It was nice,” said Everett center Kohl Bauml, who had a goal and an assist. “We weren’t as tense in the third period. The last few games have been right down to the wire, so we’ve been pretty tense — not to say we weren’t today, we were still really intense in the game. But it was nice to know we had a bit of breathing room.”
Breathing room is something that’s been in short supply for the Tips of late. Since the start of the second half Everett has played 27 games. Of the previous 26, 17 were decided by a single goal, and all but two were either tied or one-goal games in the third period. Everett hadn’t won a game by more than one goal since beating Tri-City 6-3 at home on Jan. 10.
But the Tips left no late drama Wednesday. Everett had a comfortable 4-1 lead going into the third and never gave Prince Albert a sniff of a comeback.
“It’s nice,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said about the rare comfortable victory. “It makes it more fun and you’re less stressed. We’ve had either a one-goal lead, a tie or were down one in the third period of almost every game for about 30 games. There’s maybe two Portland games where they had the kind of lead we had tonight, but other than that they’ve been nail biters. At 4-1 you’re not completely relaxed, but by the time it’s 5-1 and there’s five minutes left — it’s rare for our team to be able to just enjoy the last 10 minutes and have fun with it.”
Brayden Low, Noah Juulsen, Patrick Bajkov, and Joshua Winquist scored the other goals for Everett (31-23-7-2), which moved back into sixth place in the WHL’s Western Conference with nine games remaining. The Tips are now one point ahead of Vancouver with one game in hand. Austin Lotz earned the win in goal, making 18 saves.
Shane Danyluk scored the lone goal for the road-weary Raiders (29-30-3-2), who were playing the final game of their five-game swing through the U.S. Division. Cole Cheveldave made 25 saves in net for Prince Albert.
Everett offense was given a big boost by a resurgent power play. The Tips had been shut out on the power play in their previous four contests, and since Feb. 8 they were just 3-for-27 (11.1 percent) with the advantage. But Everett went 3-for-6 on the power play Wednesday to reach the five-goal plateau for the first time since winning 5-4 in overtime against Spokane on Feb. 1.
“I think we had crisp passes,” Bauml said about Everett’s effectiveness on the power play. “We were moving the puck really well, we had good shots by everyone, good zone entries. In general our power play was going tonight.”
The Tips also received a quality game from the line of Low, Logan Aasman and Remi Laurencelle. On paper the trio would seem to comprise Everett’s fourth line. However, they’ve played more like a top line in recent games. They produced Everett’s first goal Wednesday, which negated Prince Albert’s opener, and that line has found the scoresheet in three of the Tips’ past five contests.
“They’ve been a pretty trustworthy line,” Constantine said. “They scored a goal in Spokane two weekends ago, they scored last weekend and they got a goal to get us going tonight. It’s been a line that’s worked hard, been trustworthy in their own end and chipped in occasionally offensively. They do a good job of using their big bodies and getting near the net. That’s where goals are scored in today’s game, and they do that part of the thing right.”
Everett found itself behind early as the Raiders scored 4 minutes, 58 seconds into the game. A loose puck behind the Tips goal squirted out front to Danyluk, who was all alone. Danyluk put a shot under Lotz to stake Prince Albert to a 1-0 lead.
But Everett came back with two goals in four minutes later in the period to take a 2-1 lead. Low tied it at 12:13 when, just as a Prince Albert penalty expired, he was the beneficiary of Aasman’s blind backhand pass across the crease. Then at 16:15 the Tips took a 2-1 lead as Juulsen wristed a shot from the right point through traffic and into the far corner. It was the first career WHL goal for the 16-year-old rookie.
Prince Albert was then whistled for four consecutive penalties in the second period, and the Tips cashed on twice to increase their lead to three. Bajkov’s slap shot from the top of the left circle deflected under Cheveldave at 9:08, then Winquist finished off a nice passing move with 19.9 seconds remaining, making it 4-1.
Prince Albert never threatened in the third, and Bauml finished off the scoring on the power play with 5:57 remaining, snapping home a one timer in front from Jujhar Khaira’s feed from behind the net.
Both Bauml and defenseman Matt Pufahl recorded their 100th career WHL points in the game. … Wednesday’s game featured the two least-penalized teams in the WHL. Everett came into the game with the fewest penalty minutes in the Western Conference (686) while Prince Albert came into the game with the fewest penalty minutes in the Eastern Conference (741). … Everett continues to be without wingers Zane Jones and Tyler Sandhu because of upper-body injuries. … Prince Albert was without center Jayden Hart because of an upper-body ailment.
Silvertips 5, Raiders 1
Prince Albert 1 0 0—1
Everett 2 2 1—5
First Period—1, Prince Albert, Danyluk 7, 4:58. 2, Everett, Low 7 (Aasman, Laurencelle), 12:13. 3, Everett, Juulsen 1 (Bauml, Hayer), 16:15. Penalties—Braid, Prince Albert (fighting), 1:05; Betker, Everett (fighting), 1:05; Prince Albert bench (too many men, served by Leverton), 10:10; Leedahl, Everett (holding), 17:42.
Second Period—4, Everett, Bajkov 8 (Mueller), 9:08 (pp). 5, Everett, Winquist 39 (Nikolishin, Pufahl), 19:40 (pp). Penalties—Low, Everett (boarding), 2:58; Brooks, Prince Albert (goaltender interference), 4:52; Gardiner, Prince Albert (tripping), 8:05; Braid, Prince Albert (goaltender interference), 15:16; Brooks, Prince Albert (high sticking), 18:53.
Third Period—6, Everett, Bauml 14 (Khaira, Nikolishin), 14:03 (pp). Penalties—Lange, Prince Albert (elbowing), 12:48; Valcourt, Prince Albert (roughing), 16:36; Hayer, Everett (slashing), 16:36.
Shots on goal—Prince Albert 10-5-4—19. Everett 10-13-7—30. Power-play opportunities—Prince Albert 0 of 2. Everett 3 of 6.
Goalies—Prince Albert, Cheveldave 23-23-2-1 (30 shots, 25 saves). Everett, Lotz 23-18-3-2 (19 shots, 18 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.