By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Portland Winterhawks decided to turn on the afterburners in the second period.
Instead of trying to match the pace, the Everett Silvertips fell asleep, and that’s not something the Tips can afford if they want to upset the Western Hockey League’s top team.
Portland skated around, past and through the Tips during the decisive second period, and the Winterhawks defeated Everett 7-3 Wednesday night to regain control of the first-round playoff series.
“I thought our guys came out and played with some energy, but boy I don’t think we played intelligently at all,” Everett interim coach Garry Davidson said. “There were a lot of breakdowns, and the second period just went south on us.
“We’ve got to work hard, but we’ve got to work smart, too, and I just don’t think we did that very well tonight at all.”
Top-seeded Portland took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series against eighth-seeded Everett. Game 4 is Friday in Everett.
The Winterhawks showed in the second period just why they won the Scotty Munro Trophy for the league’s best record. Ty Rattie, Nicolas Petan, Troy Rutkowski and Oliver Bjorkstrand all scored goals as Portland continually beat Everett off the rush to turn a 1-1 tie into commanding 5-1 lead.
Everett made a brief rally in the third period, cutting the deficit to 5-3. But an awful goal allowed by goaltender Daniel Cotton, who had relieved Austin Lotz to begin the period, wiped out the Tips’ momentum.
Petan finished with two goals and two assists as the Winterhawks’ top line of Petan, Rattie and Brendan Leipsic (one goal and two assists) eviscerated Everett’s defense in the second period.
“They played well tonight,” acting Portland coach Travis Green said of his top line. “They battled. They’re used to guys going after them and defending well against them. We used our speed effectively, not just to create chances but to play good defense. When we do that, that’s when we’re at our best.
“I think that was probably our best game of the series so far.”
Derrick Pouliot scored Portland’s other goal, while Mac Carruth needed just 10 saves to earn the win in goal.
Dawson Leedahl scored twice to lead Everett, while Joshua Winquist also scored for the Silvertips.
Lotz finished with 19 saves on 24 shots. Cotton came in to start the third period and stopped four of six.
“Lotzy’s done a lot of good things for us this year and we didn’t want to let him hang out to dry,” Davidson explained about the goalie change. “We played such a poor second period in front of him. We put Cotton in there, and sometimes that helps stimulate some of the other guys to pick up the slack, and we did climb back into it a little bit. But unfortunately it didn’t continue in that direction.”
Adding injury to insult, the Tips almost certainly lost key center Manraj Hayer for Games 4 and 5. Hayer suffered a broken finger blocking a Seth Jones shot in the second period. Davidson described Hayer’s chances of playing this weekend as “slim and none.”
The game was decided in the second period when the Winterhawks hit the turbo boost button and the Tips were left completely in the dust. Portland sped past the flat-footed Tips time and time again, scoring at will off the rush. The period began tied 1-1. It ended with the Winterhawks leading 5-1.
Portland’s top line did much of the damage, and it was that trio that snapped the tie just 3 minutes, 15 seconds into the period. A slick passing move on the counterattack between the three led to Rattie’s tap-in to make it 2-1.
It just got worse for Everett after that. Petan made it 3-1 just 3:16 later when he sniped a shot past Lotz from the left circle. Rutkowski scored on the power play at 10:25, putting in a rebound after Lotz denied Chase De Leo skating in free. Portland put an exclamation on the period with 9.9 seconds remaining, Bjorkstrand slamming the puck in from in front after De Leo raced around the Everett defense.
“We weren’t playing hard enough,” Leedahl said about the second period.
Everett tried to make a game of it in the third, scoring twice in 21 seconds to get back within two. Winquist beat Carruth with a shot off the rush at 6:25. Then on the following shift, Reid Petryk stole the puck down low and fed Leedahl cutting to the net. Leedahl put a shot into the top corner to make it 5-3.
But any thoughts of an Everett comeback ended another 48 seconds later. Pouliot gained the red line and flipped the puck high into the air so the Winterhawks could get a line change. Cotton camped under it, but the puck deflected off his glove and dropped over the goal line to end it as a contest.
Winterhawks 7, Silvertips 3
Portland 1 4 2 — 7
Everett 1 0 2 — 3
First Period—1, Everett, Leedahl 1 (Winquist, Nikkel), 3:50. 2, Portland, Petan n2 (Leipsic, Pouliot), 14:41 (pp). Penalties—Nikkel, Everett (kneeing), 13:39.
Second Period—3, Portland, Rattie 3 (Leipsic, Petan), 3:15. 4, Portland, Petan 3 (Jones), 6:31. 5, Portland, Rutkowski 2 (De Leo), 10:25 (pp). 6, Portland, Bjorkstrand 1 (De Leo, Jones), 19:50. Penalties—Rattie, Portland (tripping), 8:16; Oslanski, Everett (slashing), 9:57; Adam, Everett (tripping), 11:16; Hanson, Portland (interference), 15:16.
Third Period—7, Everett, Winquist 3 (Betker), 6:25. 8, Everett, Leedahl 2 (Petryk), 6:46. 9, Portland, Pouliot 1, 7:34. 10, Portland, Leipsic 1 (Petan, Pouliot), 9:08 (pp). Penalties—Leedahl, Everett (tripping), 1:38; Nikkel, Everett (cross checking), 7:52.
Shots on goal—Portland 11-13-6—30. Everett 4-2-7—13. Power-play opportunities—Portland 3 of 5. Everett 0 of 2.
Goalies—Portland, Carruth 2-1 (13 shots, 10 saves). Everett, Lotz 1-2 (24 shots, 19 saves), Cotton (6 shots, 4 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.