EVERETT — An old demon reared its ugly head again for the Everett Silvertips on Wednesday night.
Everett suffered another third-period collapse at home, eventually falling to the Tri-City Americans 4-3 in a shootout at Xfinity Arena.
The Tips were cruising, leading 2-0 through two periods with the Americans providing little if any threat toward Everett’s goal. But Tri-City scored twice in the third to tie it, tied it again after the Tips regained the lead, then took the two points by winning the shootout 1-0.
It was eerily reminiscent of several Everett performances at home during the first half of the season, when the Tips developed an unhealthy habit of coughing up third-period leads. Everett seemed to have solved that problem, winning eight straight at home dating back to Dec. 13. But Wednesday’s performance showed the Tips haven’t banished that specter just yet.
“Tonight we had a first period where we really played well, then a third period where we played really awful,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. “That’s been a major storyline of our season, we’re a terribly inconsistent team. It happens from one game to the next, and it definitely happens from one period to the next. It speaks to the personality of the team, it’s a team of guys who are terribly inconsistent. It keeps surfacing over and over again, it’s pretty frustrating.”
Brendan O’Reilly, Lucas Nickles and Beau McCue scored the goals for a banged-up Tri-City team that was playing without leading scorer Parker Bowles because of an arm injury, and also had four defensemen unavailable because of injury and suspension. Vladslav Lukin was the only player who converted in the shootout, and Eric Comrie earned the win in goal with 23 saves.
Patrick Bajkov, Remi Laurencelle and Nikita Scherbak scored for Everett (34-16-3-2). Austin Lotz finished with 26 saves in net for the Tips.
Everett controlled the first period, taking a 2-0 lead, then held the lead through a sterile second period. The Americans didn’t threaten much early in the third, either, until scoring shortly after a Tri-City power play expired 7 minutes, 23 seconds into the period. Lotz kicked a rebound of Brandon Carlo’s shot from the point right into the opposite slot, where O’Reilly skated in and put home the rebound for his first career WHL goal.
“We got a lot of life from the goal, and I thought our guys started working,” Tri-City coach Mike Williamson said. “We were moving our feet and winning some races to pucks that we didn’t at all through the first 30 or 40 minutes. Everett has a good team and it’s not very often you’re going to come back like that.”
The Americans built immediately on that momentum, tying it up a mere 12 seconds later. Justin Gutierrez’s centering feed on the rush got past his intended target, but the puck continued on to Nickles coming in at the far post, and Nickles put it away to make it 2-2.
Scherbak nearly rescued the game for Everett with a phenomenal solo effort. He circled the Tri-City zone once, then danced his way through the entire Americans team before putting a shot from the slot in off the crossbar, giving the Tips a 3-2 lead with 7:55 remaining.
But Tri-City answered again at 14:28. This time it was Brian Williams who used nifty stick handling to work himself free on goal. Lotz was able to deny Williams’ attempt, but McCue was on hand to put in the rebound and tie it up again at 3-3.
Everett was hindered in the third period by having to mix up its lines. Center Matt Fonteyne, returning from a one-game absence because of a lower-body injury, aggravated the injury and departed midway through the second period. Then winger Dawson Leedahl didn’t return for the third period because of illness. The effect was stark as Everett’s lines, some of which have operated like well-oiled machines of late, looked confused and disorganized.
“It shouldn’t (make a difference),” Constantine said. “We stay so on top of details that you just have jobs to do on the ice, that’s all. So it’s just a matter of staying mentally intense enough to go do your job on the ice. Of course there’s chemistry with lines, I understand all of that. But everybody’s got jobs and we practice those things, so we know our job. It’s a matter of developing a mental skill of playing the game the right way 100 percent of the time, regardless of what the scoreboard or shot clock looks like. We get away from that too often.”
Everett opened the scoring on the power play 9:14 into the game. Carson Stadnyk’s move on goal created a big scramble in front, and eventually Bajkov picked the puck out of the scrum and put it over a downed Comrie to stake the Tips to a 1-0 lead.
Everett doubled its advantage at 17:45. Scherbak, leading the rush, fed Laurencelle coming down the middle. Laurencelle took a look, then slapped a shot past Comrie to make it 2-0.
Neither team found the net in the second period, and neither team created much as both fought the puck. The best chance came to Everett midway through the period when Scherbak had a breakaway, but Comrie used a quick glove to make the stop.
Americans 4, Silvertips 3 (SO)
Tri-City 0 0 3 0 —4
Everett 2 0 1 0 —3
Americans won shootout 1-0.
First Period—1, Everett, Bajkov 20 (Millar, Stadnyk), 9:14 (pp). 2, Everett, Laurencelle 15 (Scherbak), 17:45. Penalties—Wotherspoon, Tri-City (hooking), 1:17; Tri-City bench (too many men, served by T. Comrie), 7:50.
Second Period—no goals. Penalties—Nejezchleb, Tri-City (roughing), 8:08; Nejezchleb, Tri-City (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:12; Betker, Everett (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:12; Carlo, Tri-City (fighting), 15:23; Wharrie, Everett (fighting), 15:23; Pfeifer, Everett (checking from behind), 17:44.
Third Period—3, Tri-City, O’Reilly 1 (Topping, Carlo), 7:23. 4, Tri-City, Nickles 20 (Carlo, Gutierrez), 7:35. 5, Everett, Scherbak 23 (Laurencelle), 12:05. 6, Tri-City, McCue 21 (Williams), 14:28. Penalties—Juulsen, Everett (holding), 5:10.
Overtime—no goals. Penalties—none.
Shootout—Tri-City 1 (Nejezchleb NG, Lukin G, Sandhu NG); Everett 0 (Millar NG, Stadnyk NG, Nikolishin NG).
Shots on goal—Tri-City 4-6-16-3—29. Everett 10-5-7-4—26. Power-play opportunities—Tri-City 0 of 2. Everett 1 of 3.
Goalies—Tri-City, E. Comrie 16-13-0-1 (26 shots, 23 saves). Everett, Lotz 23-12-1-2 (29 shots, 26 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.