By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips came oh so close during the third period earlier in the week while on the road. They weren’t about to let one slip away in the third period at home.
Joshua Winquist scored twice and the Tips held on in the third, defeating the Spokane Chiefs 3-2 Sunday at Comcast Arena.
Matt Pufahl added a goal and an assist, and goaltender Austin Lotz made several sparkling saves among his 16 as Everett (27-21-7-1) came through in the third period in a way they couldn’t twice earlier in the week.
“Every single game we’ve been in it in the third period and letting them slip,” said Winquist, who improved his season goal tally to 36. “We had to bear down and get the two points tonight.”
Riley Whittingham and Marcus Messier scored for Spokane (32-19-3-2), which was playing its third road game in three days. Garret Hughson finished with 23 saves in net for the Chiefs.
Everett was right there in the third period in its first two games of the week. Tuesday at Seattle the Tips were tied 3-3 in the third period before the Thunderbirds scored twice in the final 11 minutes to win 5-3. Then Saturday in Portland the Tips took a 3-2 lead early in the third before the Winterhawks came storming back to win 5-3.
This time Everett led 2-1 going into the third and extended its lead to two. Spokane began asserting itself in the final 10 minutes, got one back with 6:09 remaining, then kept the Tips scrambling the rest of the way, including during a late power play. But Everett was able to hold on.
“I thought we played really well,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. “It’s been so hard to get a lead in games. That’s what I really liked, we got off to a good start and controlled the first period. They pushed back in the second, but then Josh Winquist scored two huge goals for us. His offensive contribution was critical for the team tonight.”
Winquist’s goals came after the score was tied 1-1, giving Everett a 3-1 lead. Both goals came at the end of strong shifts for the Tips, and both were scored in nearly identical fashion.
The first of those came with 2 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the second period. After a stretch of sustained pressure, the Tips were able to hold the puck in at the point and work it to Jujhar Khaira behind the Spokane net. Khaira slipped a pass into the slot for Winquist to snap into the top corner, giving Everett a 2-1 lead.
Then just 2:00 into the third period Winquist was back at it. Once again the Tips controlled the puck in the offensive zone for an extended period, but this time it was Kohl Bauml who found the puck behind the Chiefs net and fed it out front for Winquist to put away.
“If you’re in the middle of producing something offensively, you have to finish that job,” Constantine said about those shifts. “That was the case. That ability to spend time in the offensive zone and sustain a little pressure, make the other team a little tired, that’s good to see.”
Spokane turned up the pressure in the final 10 minutes of the game, but Lotz made two huge stops on Connor Chartier to maintain Everett’s two-goal lead. Then after Messier’s tip with 6:09 remaining made it a one-goal game, it was white-knuckle time for the Tips, especially when the Chiefs received a late power play on Khaira’s goaltender interference penalty. But Everett was able to kill the penalty and survive some tight moments late to hang on.
Lotz may have faced just 18 shots on goal, but he was severely tested by those 18. It was an improvement for a goalie who was winless in his previous six starts.
“He was gone this week for personal reasons,” Constantine said of Lotz. “Maybe that was a nice little mental break. He played in Portland without even practicing, so maybe that game was his practice for playing tonight.”
The first period came down to five-on-three power plays as both teams received lengthy two-man advantages.
Everett got its first, a full 2 minutes, and the Tips converted at 14:20 as Pufahl picked out the top corner from the high slot.
Spokane then received 1:05 of five-on-three to end the period and created chances, but Lotz moved like lightning to deny Mitch Holmberg, the league’s leading scorer, at the far post, and the Tips killed it off to take a 1-0 lead into the second period.
The Chiefs tied it 8:31 into the second period. Whittingham was camped out in front, and he was able to tip Colton Bobyk’s point shot past Lotz to knot it at 1-1.
Sunday’s game featured the rare retroactive penalty. In the first period Winquist caught a stick up high and started bleeding, though no penalty was called on the play. Play continued for about two minutes and reached the first-period media timeout. After the timeout Everett found itself with a four-minute power play and Spokane’s Dominic Zwerger found himself in the penalty box with a double-minor for high sticking. … Everett continued to be without forwards Manraj Hayer (lower body), Zane Jones (upper body) and Tyler Sandhu (upper body) because of injury.
Silvertips 3, Chiefs 2
Spokane 0 1 1 — 2
Everett 1 1 1 — 3
First Period—1, Everett, Pufahl 12 (Winquist), 14:20 (pp). Penalties—Gow, Spokane (kneeing), 3:00; Pufahl, Everett (hooking), 5:58; Zwerger, Spokane (high sticking-high sticking), 12:09; Aviani, Spokane (slashing), 13:42; Stadnyk, Everett (slashing), 18:00; Leedahl, Everett (roughing), 18:56.
Second Period—2, Spokane, Whittingham 12 (Bechtold, Bobyk), 8:31. 3, Everett, Winquist 35 (Khaira, Pufahl), 17:15. Penalties—Nikolishin, Everett (tripping), 10:03; Hascic, Spokane (boarding-fighting), 13:44; Davis, Everett (fighting), 13:44.
Third Period—4, Everett, Winquist 36 (Bauml), 2:00. 5, Spokane, Messier 7 (Helewka, Aviani), 13:51. Penalties—Aviani, Spokane (tripping), 2:13; Laurencelle, Everett (tripping), 4:52; Khaira, Everett (goaltender interference), 16:44.
Shots on goal—Spokane 5-6-7—18. Everett 13-7-6—26. Power-play opportunities—Spokane 0 of 6. Everett 1 of 6.
Goalies—Spokane, Hughson 5-7-1-1 (26 shots, 23 saves). Everett, Lotz 19-17-3-1 (18 shots, 16 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.