KENT — The Everett Silvertips are rounding back into form as the season nears its conclusion.
Everett kept its winning ways going Sunday evening as they defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 3-1.
Everett struggled through much of the second half of the season, going 4-11-3-1 in its first 19 games after Christmas while being riddled with injuries. But players have gradually returned to the lineup — winger Zane Jones was the latest as he returned Sunday from an 18-game absence because of an upper-body injury — and the Tips have won three straight and seven of their past 10.
Ivan Nikolishin, Matt Fonteyne and Carson Stadnyk scored goals, and Austin Lotz made 24 saves in net for Everett (33-23-7-2), which is improving its position with regards to the playoffs. With two weeks remaining in the regular season the Tips are now five points ahead of Vancouver for sixth place in the WHL’s Western Conference, and Everett has pulled within three points of fifth-place Spokane.
Jaimen Yakubowski scored the lone goal for Seattle (39-20-2-4), which was coming off Saturday night’s 4-1 home victory over Portland that ended the Winterhawks’ 21-game winning streak. Taran Kozun finished with 27 saves in net for the T-birds.
Everett controlled play early, received a long five-on-three power play, and the Tips converted at 15 minutes, 3 seconds as Nikolishin was able to tap in a rebound to make it 1-0.
Play changed direction early in the second period, with Seattle taking the game over, and the T-birds tied it at 5:43. Everett was unable to clear the zone, and Yakubowski was able to score with a backhander out front to knot it at 1-1. Lotz then needed to make several good saves during a pair of Seattle power plays to keep it tied.
Everett got back into the game during the second half of the second period, and the Tips regained the lead at 18:35. Fonteyne skated the puck into the offensive zone and beat Kozun with a wrister, making it 2-1.
Scoring chances were few and far between in the third period until Stadnyk scored into an empty net with 39 seconds remaining to clinch it for the Tips.
Silvertips 3, Thunderbirds 1
First Period—1, Everett, Nikolishin 16 (Mueller, Bajkov), 15:03 (pp). Penalties—Henry, Seattle (tripping), 6:32; Pufahl, Everett (fighting), 14:09; Kolesar, Seattle (boarding-fighting), 14:09; Hickman, Seattle (delay of game), 14:12.
Second Period—2, Seattle, Yakubowski 10 (Maxwell), 5:43. 3, Everett, Fonteyne 3 (Mueller, Lotz), 18:35. Penalties—Betker, Everett (fighting), 0:10; Hickman, Seattle (fighting), 0:10; Betker, Everett (roughing), 5:56; MacDonald, Everett (high sticking), 8:49.
Third Period—4, Everett, Stadnyk 19 (Leedahl, Mueller), 19:21 (pp-en). Penalties—Jones, Everett (elbowing), 2:16; Gropp, Seattle (tripping), 17:23; Pufahl, Everett (cross checking), 19:41.
Shots on goal—Everett 16-7-7—30. Seattle 6-12-7—25. Power-play opportunities—Everett 2 of 4. Seattle 0 of 4.
Goalies—Everett, Lotz 25-18-3-2 (25 shots, 24 saves). Seattle, Kozun 18-24-2-2 (29 shots, 27 saves).