KELOWNA, B.C. — A best-of-seven just became a best-of-three.
The Kelowna Rockets evened up their first-round playoff series against the Everett Silvertips, winning a double-overtime thriller 5-4 Wednesday night at Prospera Place.
Geordie Wudrick scored a power-play goal 46 seconds into the second overtime as Kelowna evened the series at 2-2.
Kelowna began the second overtime on the power play and cashed in. Tyson Barrie threaded a pass from the left that just got through to Wudrick. Wudrick fired from the right circle unto the top corner at the near post to end the game.
“We had a set play and it didn’t quite work of the bat,” Wudrick said. “Tyson Barrie fed a pass over to me and I just had my head down. To be honest my legs were seizing up, I was getting pretty tired, and I just put it on net and luckily it went top corner.”
The goal was Wudrick’s second power-play goal of the game and fourth power-play goal of the series as the Rockets continued to exploit Everett’s weakness on the penalty kill. Kelowna finished 2-for-3 on the power play Wednesday and 4-for-5 in the two games in Kelowna.
Spencer Main, Brett Bulmer and Antoine Corbin also scored for Kelowna, which rallied from a two-goal first-period deficit for the second straight game. Mark Guggenberger, who got the start in goal for the Rockets after getting the win in relief in Game 3, made 39 saves.
Shane Harper, Markus McCrea, Clayton Cumiskey and Ryan Murray scored for Everett. Thomas Heemskerk, getting the start in goal after Kent Simpson started the previous two, finished with 30 saves.
Everett played without defenseman Radko Gudas for the second straight game. Gudas is listed as day-to-day because of an upper-body injury.
Everett twice had opportunities to take control of the series in Kelowna, leading both Games 3 and 4 by two early on, but the Tips let those opportunities slip through their fingers. On Wednesday, the Tips also led 4-3 going into the third period, but were unable to hold on.
Now Kelowna carries momentum into Friday’s Game 5 in Everett.
“They were up two and we got two back, so momentum’s in our hands right now,” Wudrick said. “But we’re still expecting it to be a long series, that’s been our motto right from the start of the playoffs. It’s been four games already and we’re tied up at two. We just have to go there and work real hard.”
For the second straight game, Everett found itself with an early two-goal lead. Harper opened the scoring 1 minute, 58 seconds in, one-timing a shot past Guggenberger after being set up by Chris Langkow. The Tips made it 2-0 at 5:53, a deflected centering pass going right to McCrea in the slot, who put his shot under Guggenberger.
But unlike Game 3, Kelowna wasted no time coming back. Main cut the lead at one at 6:27, banking a shot in off Heemskerk’s skate. The Rockets tied it on the power play at 15:53, Barrie’s wrister from the point pinballing into the corner off Wudrick. Then Kelowna took the lead at 19:05, Bulmer picking out the top corner after being fed in the slot.
Everett came out strong to start the second period and regained the lead. The Tips tied it at 5:39 when Curtis Kulchar’s wrister from the point hit Cumiskey in front, and Cumiskey spun a shot into the top corner. Everett went ahead 4-3 on the power play at 8:20, Murray carrying the puck on a three-on-two and putting a shot into the top of the net.
The Tips received a let-off early in the third period when Kelowna had a goal waived off because the puck was hit by a high stick. However, that let-off lasted all of 12 seconds. Bulmer beat his man and, despite getting hooked, got the puck to Corbin who scored from the slot to tie it back up.
It was all Kelowna for the next 10 minutes as the Tips had to hang on. Then Everett received a late power play with a chance to win it, but the Tips weren’t able to generate anything and it went to overtime.
In the first overtime, Everett had more of the play, but it was Heemskerk who had to come up with the bigger saves. First he made a miracle skate save on Mitchell Callahan as he was moving the opposite way, then denied Brandon McMillan after McMillan picked Alex Theriau’s pocket right in front of the Everett goal.
A late tripping penalty on Everett’s Chris Langkow carried a Kelowna power play over into the second overtime, and that’s just what the Rockets needed to put the game away.
Rockets 5, Silvertips 4 (2 OT)
First Period — 1, Everett, Harper 4 (Langkow, Theriau), 1:58. 2, Everett, McCrea 2 (de la Lande, Langkow), 5:53. 3, Kelowna, Main 1 (E. Bloodoff, Ito), 6:27. 4, Kelowna, Wudrick 5 (Barrie, McMillan), 15:53 (pp). 5, Kelowna, Bulmer 3 (Callahan, Main), 19:05. Penalties — E. Bloodoff, Kelowna (interference), 7:39; Elynuik, Everett (tripping), 15:06.
Second Period — 6, Everett, Cumiskey 1 (Kulchar, MacDonald), 5:39. 7, Everett, Murray 2 (Dailey), 8:20 (pp). Penalties — L. Bloodoff, Kelowna (cross checking), 6:48; Cumiskey, Everett (checking from behind), 9:58.
Third Period — 8, Kelowna, Corbin 2 (Bulmer, Bowman), 2:45. Penalties—Kelowna bench (too many men, served by McColgan), 15:37.
First overtime — no goals. Penalties—Langkow, Everett (tripping), 19:19.
Second overtime — 9, Kelowna, Wudrick 6 (Barrie, Guggenberger), 0:46 (pp).
Shots on goal — Everett 9-11-9-14-0 — 43. Kelowna 13-3-8-10-1 — 35. Power-play opportunities — Everett 1 of 3. Kelowna 2 of 3.
Goalies — Everett, Heemskerk 1-1 (35 shots, 30 saves). Kelowna, Guggenberger 2-0 (43 shots, 39 saves).
A — 6,088.
Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog: http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog