By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — This one hurt.
The Everett Silvertips, with their backs against the wall, were unable to find their offensive touch and fell to the Seattle Thunderbirds 2-1 Friday night at Comcast Arena.
Everett was able to get the puck into scoring positions, but too often the Tips couldn’t pull the trigger quickly enough. And when Everett did get the puck on net, Seattle goaltender Taran Kozun was up to the challenge.
As a result, Everett continues to drift down the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference standings. The loss, Everett’s sixth straight, dropped the Tips (25-19-7-1) into seventh place in the conference, two points behind Vancouver. Everett also finds itself 11 points adrift of the T-birds, who are in fourth place and would be the final team to earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
“We got to find a way to win, simply put,” said Joshua Winquist, who was the only Everett player who found a way to beat Kozun.
“I thought we played a good 60-minute game, we out chanced them in my opinion,” Winquist added. “We just have to find some scoring. You can’t win games with one or two goals, not in this style of game, not since the game has changed.”
Mathew Barzal and Ryan Gropp each had a goal and an assist for Seattle (32-15-2-3), which has won 10 of its past 11. Kozun finished with 24 saves.
Daniel Cotton made 22 saves in net for the Tips.
Everett will rue its inability to put the puck in the net when chances presented themselves. The Tips had all kinds of scoring chances in the first period, but only came away with a 1-1 tie. Winquist had several nifty stick handling moves to get himself into position, but one was denied by an outstanding Kozun save and twice Winquist had the puck knocked off his stick on the last move. Even in the final seconds, the Tips were able to get the puck right to the doorstep, but they couldn’t find a way to jam it past Kozun.
“We just have to bear down in front and try and score,” Winquist said about the team’s struggles finishing. “I feel like guys are panicking a little bit, they’re so focused on the fact we’re not winning right now they’re not taking their time. Everyone in this league has been a goal scorer at some point, so everyone should know how to put the puck in the net. But since we haven’t been winning guys are holding their stick a little too tight and we’re not getting lucky right now.”
Everett had scoring chances early, including Ivan Nikolishin smacking the post square with a slap shot on the power play. But it was Seattle that took the lead at 13 minutes, 34 seconds with a goal out of nothing. Barzal had little option but to shoot from a tight angle against Cotton, who seemed to have the net covered. However, the puck somehow banked off Cotton’s pad and into the corner, giving the T-birds a 1-0 lead.
The Tips tied it up on the power play with 52.1 seconds remaining in the period. Everett worked the puck to Winquist at the top of the right circle, and his one-time blast found the far-upper corner to knot it at 1-1.
Everett nearly grabbed the lead in the final seconds of the period when Kozun went to rim the puck from behind his own net, but the puck took a weird bounce off a stanchion and into the slot. However, Kozun somehow recovered to make a desperation save on Brayden Low to keep it tied going into the second.
Seattle then regained the lead on the power play 7:21 into the second period. Justin Hickman’s jam attempt rebounded into the far slot, where Gropp had time to skate to the puck and put a backhander past Cotton to make it 2-1.
Everett nearly tied it two minutes later as Winquist found himself free on goal. He made a move to his backhand, but Kozun made another fabulous save, getting a skate to Winquist’s attempt and maintain Seattle’s lead heading into the third.
Chances were harder to come by for Everett in the third, but with Cotton pulled for an extra attacker the Tips generated some pressure. A puck was centered, where Jujhar Khaira was on the doorstep with a chance to jam it in. But the puck stayed out, and the Tips were once again left tasting defeat.
Cotton was starting against his former team for the second time in eight days. … Everett defenseman Ben Betker was back in the lineup Friday after missing three games because of a lower-body injury. However, the Tips were still without injured forwards Manraj Hayer (lower body), Zane Jones (upper body), Logan Aasman (finger) and Tyler Sandhu (upper body). … Seattle played without key forwards Connor Honey and Branden Troock because of upper-body injuries.
Thunderbirds 2, Silvertips 1
Seattle 1 1 0 — 2
Everett 1 0 0 — 1
First Period—1, Seattle, Barzal 8 (Gropp, Wardley), 13:34. 2, Everett, Winquist 32 (Pufahl, Nikolishin), 19:07 (pp). Penalties—Yakubowski, Seattle (fighting), 3:24; Khaira, Everett (fighting), 3:24; Lipsbergs, Seattle (charging), 8:58; Theodore, Seattle (hooking), 19:07.
Second Period—3, Seattle, Gropp 13 (Hickman, Barzal), 7:21 (pp). Penalties—Fonteyne, Everett (slashing), 6:23; Spencer, Seattle (hooking), 12:55.
Third Period—. Penalties—DeRoose, Everett (roughing), 3:13; Hickman, Seattle (tripping), 7:35; Delnov, Seattle (kneeing), 13:51; Nikolishin, Everett (interference), 14:28.
Shots on goal—Seattle 9-8-7—24. Everett 13-4-8—25. Power-play opportunities—Seattle 1 of 3. Everett 1 of 5.
Goalies—Seattle, Kozun 12-19-2-1 (25 shots, 24 saves). Everett, Cotton 7-3-4-0 (24 shots, 22 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.