PORTLAND — The Everett Silvertips appeared in control and en route to a comfortable Sunday afternoon road victory over the Portland Winterhawks.
Then things changed dramatically.
The Winterhawks scored three times in the final 5:39 to turn a two-goal deficit into a stunning 4-3 win over the Tips before 9,176 fans at the Moda Center in Everett’s final regular-season visit to the Rose City.
“Disappointment, obviously,” Everett assistant coach Mitch Love said in a postgame interview on 1380 KRKO AM. “I thought for the most part we played a pretty steady hockey game through the first 40 minutes on the road here. Then we just kind of went to sleep on a Winterhawks team that can surely make you pay if you go to sleep, and they did that here tonight.”
Skyler McKenzie scored the game-winner with 13 seconds remaining to complete the stunning comeback as the Tips (41-16-8-3, 93 points) squandered an opportunity to move past the Seattle Thunderbirds (44-19-4-2, 94 points) atop the Western Conference and U.S. Division.
The Tips led 3-1 entering the third period and that’s how it remained late into the frame.
Everett earned a late power play, but that’s when things took a turn. Portland’s Caleb Jones scored a short-handed goal on a rebound to cut the deficit to 3-2.
That seemed to spark the Winterhawks as projected NHL first-round draft pick Cody Glass tied the game with his 32nd goal of the season at 17:23. McKenzie then gave Portland the only lead it needed when he stashed the game-winner from the top of the crease past Everett goaltender Carter Hart at 19:47.
It was a tough loss for Hart, who saved 42 of the 46 shots he saw.
“This whole second half (of the season) has been surely a battle and just showing you how competitive not only our division, but our conference (is),” Love said. “I think anybody can beat anybody on any given night and I think that’s what’s going to end up happening here as we go into the playoffs.”
For the second consecutive night, the Silvertips scored twice in the opening period. Brandson Hein took advantage of a Portland turnover to score his third of the season just 2:22 into the first period. Top-line center Matt Fonteyne then pushed it to 2-0 when he roofed a shot past Cole Kehler thanks to a tape-to-tape feed from Dominic Zwerger at 15:58.
Everett killed off its first penalty midway through the second period, but Lane Gilliss caught the Tips on a change and cut the deficit to 2-1 by beating Hart at 11:49.
Eetu Tuulola got it right back on the next shift when he backhanded a rebound past Kehler to push it to 3-1 at 12:07.
That’s how it remained until the dramatic final five minutes.
Everett held a 14-9 shot advantage through the first period, but Portland outshot the Tips 37-21 over the final 40 minutes.
Winterhawks 4, Silvertips 3
1st Period—1, Everett, Hein 3 2:22. 2, Everett, Fonteyne 17 (Zwerger), 15:58. Penalties-Iverson Por (cross checking), 6:31; Jones Por (holding), 10:15.
2nd Period—3, Portland, Gilliss 5 (Veloso, Texeira), 11:49. 4, Everett, Tuulola 17 (Richards), 12:07. Penalties-Anderson Evt (cross checking), 9:02; Jones Por (high sticking), 14:55.
3rd Period—5, Portland, Jones 9 (Revel), 14:21 (SH). 6, Portland, Glass 32 (Iverson, De Jong), 17:23. 7, Portland, McKenzie 41 (Glass, Iverson), 19:47. Penalties-Jones Por (holding), 2:42; Tuulola Evt (roughing), 7:47; De Jong Por (roughing), 13:35.
Shots on Goal—Everett 14-12-0-26. Portland 9-21-3-33.
Power Play Opportunities—Everett 0/0; Portland 0/0.
Goalies—Everett, Hart 29-11-6-2 (45 shots-42 saves). Portland, Kehler 30-17-0-3 (32 shots-32 saves).