SPOKANE — The game of leap frog continues atop the U.S. Division standings.
The Everett Silvertips jumped in front of the Seattle Thunderbirds once again for the top spot as the Tips knocked off the Spokane Chiefs 4-0 before 3,721 fans at Spokane Arena.
The Tips (40-14-8-3, 90 points) have jostled for the top spot with Seattle for most of the past month. Everett now leads the T-birds by one point in the standings with the final regular-season meeting between the two teams looming Friday at ShoWare Center in Kent.
Spokane (26-30-7-3, 62 points) was eliminated from playoff contention as the Portland Winterhawks topped the Prince George Cougars 5-4 in the Rose City on Wednesday.
Everett goaltender Carter Hart saved all 17 shots he faced for his league-best ninth shutout of the season and 19th of his Silvertips career.
The Everett win avenged a disappointing 4-1 home loss to the Chiefs last week on Wednesday at Xfinity Arena.
Everett took a 2-0 lead into the second period and wasted little time extending the advantage.
Dominic Zwerger, in likely his final appearance at Spokane Arena where he played three years for the Chiefs, made it 3-0 with a breakaway and backhanded deke to beat Jayden Sittler at 4:53 in the second.
Aaron Irving’s point shot at 5:57 pushed it to 4-0 as the Tips held a 27-10 shot advantage through two.
That’s the way it ended as the Tips moved back into first place.
Early in the first Everett had back-to-back shots hit the post immediately after it killed its first penalty.
But Cal Babych intercepted a bad pass in front of the net at 5:48 and poked it past Sittler’s glove to give Everett the 1-0 lead. It was Babych’s first goal as a Silvertip.
Devon Skoleski pushed it to 2-0 when he cleaned up a rebound of a Sean Richards shot at the front of the net at 8:16.
The Tips were 0-for-5 on the power play while the Chiefs were 0-for-6.
Silvertips 4, Chiefs 0
Everett 2 2 0 — 4
Spokane 0 0 0 — 0
1st Period—1, Everett, Babych 1 5:48. 2, Everett, Skoleski 14 (Richards, Kindopp), 8:16. Penalties—Bajkov Evt (tripping), 1:17; Juulsen Evt (checking from behind), 5:57; McIndoe Spo (delay of game), 15:45.
2nd Period—3, Everett, Zwerger 25 (Christiansen), 4:53. 4, Everett, Irving 17 (Richards, Sutter), 5:57. Penalties—Smith Spo (hooking), 5:57; Irving Evt (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 8:59; McKay Spo (roughing), 12:24; Yamamoto Spo (roughing), 14:08; Dewar Evt (kneeing), 16:52.
3rd Period—No Scoring. Penalties—Christiansen Evt (tripping), 4:04; Babych Evt (high sticking), 8:57; Kousal Spo (slashing), 11:43.
Shots on Goal—Everett 13-14-9-36. Spokane 5-5-7-17.
Power Play Opportunities—Everett 0 / 5; Spokane 0 / 6.
Goalies—Everett, Hart 29-9-6-2 (17 shots-17 saves). Spokane, Sittler 15-15-3-1 (36 shots-32 saves).