EVERETT — Brendan Leipsic has been known to get on the wrong side of the officials, as the Portland Winterhawks star winger is notorious for his abrasive style and tendency to play on the edge.
But Wednesday night Leipsic got on the right side of the officials while sinking the Everett Silvertips.
Leipsic scored the tiebreaking goal with less than eight minutes remaining, thanks in part to the aid of a linesman, and the Winterhawks went on to defeat the Tips 4-1 at Comcast Arena.
Leipsic, playing for the first time since completing a seven-game suspension for a match penalty on Dec. 17 against Seattle, used a linesman as a pick to shed Everett defenseman Ben Betker following a Portland faceoff win in the Tips zone. He then raced around the Tips net and put his wraparound attempt over Everett netminder Austin Lotz to snap a 1-1 tie.
“I’ve done that a couple times, when (Nicolas Petan) just wins the draw back and I just kind of go around the pile,” Leipsic said about using the linesman to his advantage. “It’s worked a couple times, it was a good goal there.”
Said Everett coach Kevin Constantine: “We definitely got picked by the linesman, but that’s the breaks.”
Derrick Pouliot and Adam De Champlain also scored, while Keegan Iverson added a late empty-net goal for Portland (26-12-2-2), which was near full strength for the first time in a month. In addition to getting Leipsic back, the defending league champion also welcomed back its other big guns as Pouliot, Petan and Taylor Leier returned from representing Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships. The Winterhawks had lost four straight, but everyone back in the fold they believe they’re ready to make a push toward another U.S. Division title.
“With a lot of guys coming back, myself and the three others from World Juniors, there’s no more excuses,” Leipsic said. “(Everett) is a tough team to come back against. They play hard and trap it up, and we’re a rush team, so they kind of frustrate us coming through the neutral zone. But I thought we stuck with it, got a couple big goals at the end and pulled out a win we really needed.”
Adin Hill, who was just called up by Portland on Wednesday to make his WHL debut in goal, stopped 28 shots to earn the victory.
Carson Stadnyk scored the lone goal for Everett (23-13-6-1), which had a dreadful night on special teams. Portland scored on its only real power play of the game, while the Tips went 0-for-6 with the advantage. Not only did Everett fail to convert on the power play, Portland had far better scoring chances while short-handed than the Tips had with the extra man.
“We played a good game, except our power play was awful,” Constantine lamented. “They had more chances on our power play than we had. Lotzy did a good job to keep us in the game.”
Lotz finished with 25 saves in net for the Tips, who dropped their fourth straight. He bailed Everett out on several occasions, including denying two Portland short-handed breakaway chances.
After a scoreless first period, the game split into two in the second. Everett had the upper hand while the teams were at even strength, but Portland dominated the special teams.
Portland struck just nine seconds into the period. The Winterhawks began the period on the power play and came in free on goal off the opening puck drop. Lotz saved the first chance and the second was blocked, but Pouliot buried the third chance over a downed Lotz to give Portland a 1-0 lead.
Everett was better at even strength and tied it at 7:43. Jujhar Khaira skated the puck out from behind Portland’s net and slipped a pass to the back door where Stadnyk put it away to knot it at 1-1. The goal was Stadnyk’s seventh in the past seven games.
But the Winterhawks had the best of the remainder of the period, including while Everett was on the power play, creating far more quality scoring chances while short-handed than the Tips did while having the advantage. Adam Rossignol and Petan both had clear breakaways, but Lotz made the save both times to keep it tied going into the third.
Portland had another short-handed chance early in the third, only for Chase De Leo to put the puck wide with the net gaping. But Leipsic did his dash past the linesman and around the net at 12:10 to give the Winterhawks the lead. Then just 2:05 later Portland added insurance. De Champlain was making a nuisance of himself in front of the Everett goal, and he was in position to tap in the rebound from Anton Cederholm’s point shot to effectively bury Everett’s hopes.
Everett center Brayden Low took a major penalty for checking to the head with 2.6 second remaining in regulation and faces a possible suspension. … Everett played without four key players — forwards Manraj Hayer (concussion) and Tyler Sandhu (back), defensemen Matt Pufahl (ribs) and Austin Adam (lower body) — because of injury. … Forward Remi Laurencelle, acquired by Everett from Lethbridge on Sunday, made his Tips debut. … Portland played without defenseman Mathew Dumba. Dumba has officially been returned to the WHL by the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, but he has yet to join the Winterhawks.
Winterhawks 4, Silvertips 1
Portland 0 1 3 — 4
Everett 0 1 0 — 1
First Period—no goals. Penalties—De Leo, Portland (cross checking), 5:00; De Champlain, Portland (fighting), 13:39; Betker, Everett (fighting), 13:39; MacDonald, Everett (tripping), 19:39.
Second Period—1, Portland, Pouliot 10 (Leipsic, Bjorkstrand), 0:09 (pp). 2, Everett, Stadnyk 16 (Khaira, Leedahl), 7:43. Penalties—Pouliot, Portland (slashing), 1:06; Cederholm, Portland (delay of game), 2:56; Leipsic, Portland (hooking), 17:45.
Third Period—3, Portland, Leipsic 21 (Petan), 12:10. 4, Portland, De Champlain 4 (Cederholm), 14:15. 5, Portland, Iverson 10 (Haar, Pouliot), 19:43 (en). Penalties—Leier, Portland (roughing), 3:34; De Leo, Portland (tripping), 15:49; Rossignol, Portland (instigator-fighting-game misconduct), 19:57; Low, Everett (major-checking to the head-fighting-game misconduct), 19:57.
Shots on goal—Portland 5-12-12—29. Everett 9-11-9—29. Power-play opportunities—Portland 1 of 2. Everett 0 of 6.
Goalies—Portland, Hill 1-0-0-0 (29 shots, 28 saves). Everett, Lotz 16-11-2-1 (28 shots, 25 saves).