For Everett Silvertips fans there were a couple of positive points to take away from another one-goal Tips loss at ShoWare Center.
The first takeaway is that the Tips played a much better first period than has been their custom in Kent this season. It stood in particularly stark contrast to the Sunday game two weeks ago when Everett fell 6-1. On Friday the Tips outshot the T-Birds 9-7 in a scoreless first period and took a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the second stanza.
The second takeaway is that despite the loss the Tips still hold two games in hand of the T-Birds and thus still control their own destiny in the race for the U.S. Division crown – despite Seattle moving ahead 92-91 in points after Friday’s win. The T-Birds have just four games (and eight possible points) remaining so the highest total they could earn is 100 points. The Tips have six games (and 12 possible points) to go and could finish with 103 points.
At risk of putting the proverbial cart well before the accompanying horse, winning the division is crucial because it would give Everett home-ice advantage in a potential second-round playoff match-up with the T-Birds.
The Tips finished the regular season with an 0-4-0-1 mark at ShoWare Center. That includes a shootout loss, two one-goal losses and a 3-1 loss on Jan. 17 that featured an empty-netter in the final minute (plus the aforementioned 6-1 debacle we can disregard as the outlier). While Everett has been competitive at ShoWare Center, it hasn’t been able to win there.
In contrast the Tips finished 4-0-1-0 against Seattle at Xfinity Arena (with two Carter Hart shutouts).
– Seattle center Mathew Barzal skated off the ice during the National Anthem and didn’t return. Official word is illness.
– Everett scratched defenseman Aaron Irving. It was a Friday-morning decision and he’s officially day-to-day (though I did not see him at the arena with Everett’s other scratches). We’ll see how that plays out today and Sunday with road games at Tri-City and Portland.
The Turning Point
Ryan Gropp found Alexander True for a short-handed goal at 4:18 in the second. That broke a 1-1 tie and the Thunderbirds never trailed again.
1. Seattle F Alexander True: Jumped up to the first line with Mathew Barzal’s absence and broke a 1-1 tie with a shorthanded goal.
2. Seattle F Ryan Gropp: Assisted True’s go-ahead shorthanded goal.
3. Seattle D Ethan Bear: The high-scoring defenseman scored the game-winning goal at 17:45 in the third period.