Here’s three observations from the Everett Silvertips’ 9-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans on Saturday night at Angel of the Winds Arena, which gave the Tips a 4-1 series win in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series:
1) Everett was motivated to end the series.
This was an absolute clinic by Everett. The Tips were on fire right from the opening puck drop, and Tri-City had no answer. Everett played with a high level of energy, was fast to pucks, won puck battles, and all of it was done with a crispness that couldn’t help but result in goals.
Tri-City showed some feistiness early in the game, particularly in scrums and after the whistle. But I never really saw an Americans team that believed it could win. Whether it was the way Everett came out of the gate Saturday, the situation in the series, or a combination of both, Tri-City wasn’t able to match the Tips’ intensity level in this one.
Everett’s domination meant the Tips could get everyone a lot of ice time, and every player Everett put on the ice played with that same fire. As a result, the Tips received contributions from up and down the lineup. Six different Everett players scored goals, and 10 players had points. That included a three-point night from Gage Goncalves, who now has more goals in five playoff games (two) than he had in 67 regular season games (one).
Clearly the Tips were not interested in packing up after the game and getting on the bus for another trip to Kennewick.
2) Zack Andrusiak showed his worth.
Andrusiak was Everett’s most expensive trade acquisition this season, with the overage winger acquired from Seattle to provide the Tips with another elite goal scorer. However, Andrusiak had been a tad underwhelming since joining Everett. He had 11 goals in 29 games with the Tips during the regular season after scoring 27 in 34 games with the T-birds, and his two points in Everett’s first four playoff games were both empty-net goals.
But to Andrusiak’s credit, he didn’t let his lack of offense affect the other areas of his game. He continued to play hard and show defensive responsibility, and he didn’t display any negative body language on the ice about his offensive game.
Then Saturday he showed why Everett traded for him. He showed off quick hands when he scored on the backhand on the power play, an important goal that made it 2-0 late in the first period. He showed good patience and vision when he spied Goncalves dashing goalward off the bench for Everett’s fifth goal midway through the second. Then he showed his sniping ability when he scored on the rush midway through the third for the Tips’s eighth.
When the trade was made, with Everett swapping overage forwards, part of the reason for the deal was because the Tips were concerned Sean Richards was one bad hit away from a six-week suspension as a repeat offender. That Richards did indeed get suspended in Seattle’s playoff series against Vancouver seemingly justified the trade. But Everett is going to need Andrusiak to continue producing if the Tips are to go deep into the playoffs.
3) Connor Dewar looks fine.
There was concern about the health of Everett’s captain and MVP. Dewar missed the end of Everett’s 6-1 Game 1 victory after crashing into the Tri-City goal while scoring, then sat out Game 2 with an undisclosed injury. Though he returned for Game 3 in Kennewick, he came back with a different role. Prior to the injury Dewar was playing center and taking a high percentage of Everett’s faeoffs. Upon returning he was on the wing and taking a minimal number of faceoffs. Was the injury something that affected his ability on faceoffs?
Well, whatever it is, it isn’t affecting the rest of his game. Dewar was as good as anyone on the ice Saturday. He skated with speed and purpose, he shot with power and precision, and he showed no reluctance to get engaged physically.
There was one sequence that showed all this in the second period. First, Dewar sped past the defense on the left and unleashed a quick and powerful wrister that was blocked behind the net by Tri-City goaltender Beck Warm. Dewar stayed with the play, chasing the puck behind the net and outmuscling the defense to win it back. He then curled into the circle and fired a shot that beat Warm over his glove to make it 4-0.
Maybe he’s not taking as many faceoffs, but he’s still playing like Connor Dewar.