By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The good news for the Everett Silvertips? They finally put some pucks in the net.
The bad news? It still wasn’t near enough to end their skid.
Everett’s losing streak reached nine games as the Tips fell 6-3 to the Spokane Chiefs on Friday night at Comcast Arena. The nine-game losing streak is one short of the franchise-worst 10-game skid Everett suffered through last season.
Everett’s three goals were the most the Tips had scored in a game during the losing streak — Everett scored a measly total of seven goals in the previous eight games. But Spokane punished the Tips whenever they turned the puck over.
“Three of their first five goals were from us not managing the puck well,” Everett interim coach Garry Davidson said. “It’s real easy for people to say to defend better, but I believe managing the puck is as important. If you don’t manage it right, then you create opportunities for the other team.
“We did get some shots on goal tonight, which is a positive thing.”
Alessio Bertaggia scored twice to lead the Chiefs (34-22-2-0). Cole Wedman, Mitch Holmberg, Dylan Walchuk and Mikulas Rimmel also scored for Spokane, while Eric Williams made 24 saves to earn the win in goal.
Kohl Bauml scored twice for the Tips (21-33-1-4), while Manraj Hayer also found the net. Daniel Cotton made 33 saves in goal for Everett.
“We’re psychologically not in a great spot right now,” Davidson said. “But we can’t worry about the nine we just finished, we have to worry about (tonight) and get refocused.”
It doesn’t get much more important than tonight’s home game against Seattle. Everett is one of three teams are engaged in a battle for the final two playoff berths in the Western Conference. Everett occupies seventh place, just two points ahead of Seattle and five ahead of Prince George. Therefore, tonight’s game could end up being decisive in the race.
Both Everett and Seattle come into tonight’s game riding lengthy losing streaks, as the T-birds have dropped their last seven after falling 3-2 in overtime at home against lowly Vancouver on Friday. So something has to give.
“One of the three teams has to take charge and start winning some hockey games and secure their playoff spot,” Davidson said. “Hopefully it will be us and it will begin (tonight).”
As for Friday’s contest, Spokane jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead. Wedman scored with a shot from the point at 7 minutes, 18 seconds of the first period, moments after Adam Power had hit the crossbar. Then the Chiefs scored on the power play at 10:57, Bertaggia poking the puck past Cotton after an extended scramble in front.
Everett got one back at 14:46, Bauml slamming in a cross-slot feed from Ryan Harrison to make it 2-1.
But the Chiefs restored their two-goal advantage with 25.4 seconds remaining. A muffed dump-in attempt was blocked at the blue line, allowing Mike Aviani to spring Holmberg on a breakaway. Aviani put the puck under Cotton to make it 3-1.
It looked like the Chiefs had put the game away when they scored short-handed at 13:47 of the second period, Walchuk redirecting Brenden Kichton’s centering feed on a three-on-two.
But the Tips received a five-on-three 21 seconds after Spokane’s goal, and Everett converted at 14:51, Hayer putting in a rebound of Connor Cox’s shot to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Everett put in a spirited effort in the third, but a turnover in the defensive zone gave Rimmel the opportunity to put a shot in the top corner at 7:05. Bauml answered for Everett at 10:43, putting in a rebound off the rush, but Bertaggia sealed it with 36.5 seconds remaining, scoring into an empty net.
Everett had No. 1 goaltender Austin Lotz in uniform for the second straight night. Lotz is still recovering from the sprained ankle that’s kept him out since Jan. 29, and he’s only expected to play this weekend in an emergency. … Spokane welcomed playmaking winger Bertaggia back to the lineup. Bertaggia had played just twice for the Chiefs since arriving at the Jan. 10 trade deadline because of an upper-body injury. … With three defensemen out injured, Spokane used overage winger Blake Gal as a d-man.
Chiefs 6, Silvertips 3
First Period—1, Spokane, Wedman 3 (Chartier, Power), 7:18. 2, Spokane, Bertaggia 19 (Holmberg, Kichton), 10:57 (pp). 3, Everett, Bauml 18 (Harrison, Sandhu), 14:46. 4, Spokane, Holmberg 34 (Aviani), 19:34. Penalties—Oslanski, Everett (tripping), 9:44.
Second Period—5, Spokane, Walchuk 17 (Kichton), 13:47 (sh). 6, Everett, Hayer 12 (Cox, Mappin), 14:51 (pp). Penalties—Chartier, Spokane (interference), 13:14; Gow, Spokane (slashing), 14:08; Kichton, Spokane (roughing), 20:00; Hayer, Everett (roughing), 20:00.
Third Period—7, Spokane, Rimmel 3 (Playfair), 7:05. 8, Everett, Bauml 19 (Harrison, Oslanski), 10:43. 9, Spokane, Bertaggia 20 (Gow), 19:23 (en). Penalties—Proft, Spokane (unsportsmanlike conduct), 8:54; Mappin, Everett (charging), 8:54; Fiddler, Spokane (holding), 11:59; Betker, Everett (tripping), 15:00; Oslanski, Everett (roughing), 19:23.
Shots on goal—Spokane 17-12-10—39. Everett 8-9-10—27. Power-play opportunities—Spokane 1 of 3. Everett 1 of 3.
Goalies—Spokane, Williams 28-16-2-0 (27 shots, 24 saves). Everett, Cotton 9-16-0-2 (38 shots, 33 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.