By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips must have heard echoes of the ping that emanates from rubber meeting metal in their sleep Sunday night.
They heard plenty of it during their game earlier in the evening.
The iron was not kind to the Everett on Sunday at Comcast Arena as the Tips fell 3-1 to the Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 2 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.
For the second straight game the Tips outshot the T-birds by a considerable margin — Sunday it was 27-16. But for the second straight game Everett was only able to turn its shot advantage into a single goal.
And those times when the Tips were able to get the puck past Seattle goaltender Taran Kozun, more often than not the puck smacked the post. Everett drew iron three times: once when the Tips were leading by a goal, once when it was tied, and once when they trailed by one.
“Those were probably the turning points,” said Everett winger Brayden Low, who smacked the inside of the post early in the third period when the score was tied 1-1. “Opening the third period tied in the game and I had it on my stick, another two inches less and it would have been in. It wasn’t, then three minutes later they go back and score. That’s a tough pill to swallow, to say the least.”
Branden Troock and Russell Maxwell scored third-period goals as Seattle overcame an early Everett goal to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Roberts Lipsbergs also scored for the T-birds, and Kozun played another strong game, making 26 saves.
“They’re a good team,” Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk said about the Tips. “To be up 2-0 in the situation we are, I’m happy. There’s a lot of hockey left, by no means is the series over. When you come in here you’re going to need a couple bounces and a couple big saves. They played a good game and we had to keep fighting and battling, and guys came up big for us.”
Carson Stadnyk scored while Austin Lotz finished with 13 saves in goal for Everett, which must win four of five to take the series, beginning with Game 3 Tuesday in Kent.
“Both games have been close, and they’ve just found a way to find key goals at the right moments,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. “But the series is close.
“At the start of the third that would have been a nice goal to get,” Constantine added. “The situations were pretty even for the teams. They found a way to hit the back of the net. We were close, but we didn’t.”
It was anyone’s game at the start of the third period, as the score was tied 1-1, and within 20 seconds Everett could have had the lead. An intricate passing play in transition set up Low with an open shot from the left slot. Low fired past Kozun, but the puck hit the inside of the post and rocketed out the other direction, keeping the score tied.
Seattle then took the lead at 2 minutes, 58 seconds. While skating four-on-four, the T-birds entered the zone two-on-two. Mathew Barzal took a look and fed the opposite wing for Troock, who had gotten behind his defender. Troock then cut back across Lotz and scored to make it 2-1.
Everett had chances to tie it. Jujhar Khaira, who nearly gave the Tips a 2-0 lead in the first period when he blasted a shot flush off the post, managed to poke the puck into the goal during a scramble. However, it came just after the referee blew the play dead. Then Dawson Leedahl got an angle on the defense, but his shot glanced off the outside of the post.
The T-birds then gave themselves some cushion at 8:45. Just as an Everett penalty expired, Lipsbergs fired a shot from the right circle that was saved by Lotz. But a scramble ensued, with Maxwell eventually putting the loose puck in to make it 3-1.
Though it wasn’t technically a power-play goal, it came before Khaira was able to get out of the box and back into the play, and special teams have favored Seattle so far in the series. If one includes Seattle’s third goal Sunday, the T-birds have scored four goals as a result of eight power-play chances in the first two games. Meanwhile, Everett went 0-for-5 Sunday and is 1-for-11 in the series.
“Each team scored on its five-on-three (Everett scored on it’s chance Saturday in Seattle’s 2-1 victory in Kent, the T-birds scored on their chance during the second period Sunday),” Constantine said. “But they’ve gotten more out of their power play than we have. We’ve had some decent chances on ours, but for sure they’ve been the better special teams team so far.”
In Saturday’s Game 1 it was Seattle that got onto the scoreboard in the opening minutes. Sunday it was Everett that struck early as the Tips opened the scoring just 3:51 into the game. Miscommunication behind the net between Kozun and the defense resulted in a turnover, allowing Low to tap the puck out front. Stadnyk, who had just come off the bench, glided in free and one-timed a shot past a recovering Kozun to give Everett a 1-0 lead.
Seattle received a five-on-three power play early in the second period and the T-birds capitalized. Adam Henry drifted across the high slot, then sent a back-door feed to Lipsbergs, who one-timed the puck into the top of the net to make it 1-1 at 5:01.
Both goalies were called into action later in the period. Lotz had to make a good lunging save on Maxwell at the back door during a Seattle power play. Then Kozun robbed Khaira, diving across the goal when it looked like Khaira was going to score from the slot.
Thunderbirds 3, Silvertips 1
Seattle 0 1 2 — 3
Everett 1 0 0 — 1
First Period—1, Everett, Stadnyk 1 (Low), 3:51. Penalties—Delnov, Seattle (hooking), 11:39; Betker, Everett (holding), 16:34; Bear, Seattle (tripping), 17:23; Barzal, Seattle (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:58; Juulsen, Everett (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:58; Hauf, Seattle (roughing), 19:18; Wardley, Seattle (roughing), 19:18; Khaira, Everett (roughing), 19:18; Winquist, Everett (cross checking), 19:18.
Second Period—2, Seattle ,Lipsbergs 1 (Henry, Theodore), 5:01 (pp). Penalties—Stadnyk, Everett (tripping), 3:14; Betker, Everett (cross checking), 4:36; Hickman, Seattle (boarding), 10:06; Delnov, Seattle (hooking), 17:42.
Third Period—3, Seattle, Troock 1 (Barzal), 2:58. 4, Seattle, Maxwell 2 (Lipsbergs, Theodore), 8:45. Penalties—Lipsbergs, Seattle (cross checking), 2:22; Jones, Everett (embellishment), 2:22; Smith, Seattle (tripping), 5:02; Khaira, Everett (tripping), 6:41.
Shots on goal—Seattle 5-6-5—16. Everett 9-11-7—27. Power-play opportunities—Seattle 1 of 4. Everett 0 of 5.
Goalies—Seattle, Kozun 2-0 (27 shots, 26 saves). Everett, Lotz 0-2 (16 shots, 13 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.