KENT — Don’t think for a moment the importance of winning U.S. Division games is lost on this group of Everett Silvertips.
The reigning division champions erupted for three third-period goals to complete their second come-from-behind victory in as many nights for a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds before 4,042 fans Saturday at the ShoWare Center.
“U.S. Division — that’s the key thing,” forward Remi Laurencelle said. “Obviously these points are crucial because they’re actually in our division. … We see Seattle being in first place and it’s a big four-point game, for sure.”
Patrick Bajkov scored twice and Laurencelle tallied a goal and an assist for Everett (17-10-0-2, 36 points) as the Silvertips moved within two points of first-place Seattle (18-10-2-0, 38 points).
The victory comes after Friday’s 3-2 comeback win at Tri-City, and has been a welcome response to Everett’s 7-5 home loss to Portland Wednesday — a game in which Everett held a 5-2 third-period lead.
“Kind of our goal was to have a decent week, and it didn’t start that way,” Everett head coach Kevin Constantine said. “(But) we won two of three against division opponents, so it was a good week.”
Laurencelle scored the game-winner just 44 seconds into the third period. The Silvertips took advantage of a mid-ice collision by Seattle’s Scott Eansor and Keegan Kolesar, and Laurencelle tapped in the go-ahead goal on a tic-tac-toe pass from Carson Stadnyk for a 2-1 lead.
“It’s always good to get the goalie moving,” Laurencelle said. “So if I pass to Stadnyk and he shoots obviously he’s got a good shot and he can probably score himself. But when you get the goalie moving side-to-side…you’ve got more net to shoot at.”
Everett added its third goal via the power play when Laurencelle faked the slap shot, then found Cole MacDonald all alone at the left side of the crease for the goal at 8:58 in the third.
Bajkov’s second goal of the game came when he collected a loose puck at the Seattle blue line and beat Seattle goaltender Logan Flodell for a 4-1 advantage at 12:07 that completed the scoring.
“I think when we go back in the room and talk about the things we have to go over we’re good at executing afterward,” Bajkov said. “We had a really good third period tonight and I thought it was a really good way to seal the game.”
Despite outshooting Seattle through two periods, the Tips trailed 1-0 until Bajkov found the back of the net with a wrister from the left circle while a scrum of players screened Flodell at 16:29 in the second period.
Turner Ottenbreit put the Thunderbirds on the board at 12:44 when his slap shot from the point snuck through heavy traffic in front of the net and clanged off the post and in for the 1-0 lead. Nevertheless Everett held a 16-7 shot advantage in the opening stanza.
“Three (games) in four nights and we didn’t get in until three in the morning last night,” Constantine said. “There could have been reasons we would have been sluggish, but I thought we were pretty crisp in the first period.”
Ottenenbreit’s tally proved Seattle’s only goal as the Silvertips scored three unanswered goals for the second consecutive game.
Hart finished with 26 saves and Matt Fonteyne had two assists for the Tips, who also held a 34-27 shot advantage.
The Silvertips play at Spokane on Wednesday.
Notes: Everett played without star defenseman Noah Juulsen, while Seattle missed Mathew Barzal. Both are in Ontario where they are trying out for the Team Canada squad that will compete at the World Junior Championship later this month in Helsinki, Finland.
Silvertips 4, Thunderbirds 1
Everett 0 1 3 — 4
Seattle 1 0 0 — 1
1st Period—1, Seattle, Ottenbreit 2 (Gropp, Bear), 12:44. Penalties—Martin Evt (hooking), 16:27; Watson Sea (cross checking), 19:02.
2nd Period—2, Everett, Bajkov 6 (Dwyer, Fonteyne), 16:29. Penalties—Gerth Evt (major-fighting), 9:57; Hauf Sea (major-fighting), 9:57.
3rd Period—3, Everett, Laurencelle 15 (Stadnyk), 0:44. 4, Everett, MacDonald 3 (Laurencelle, Martin), 8:58 (PP). 5, Everett, Bajkov 7 (Fonteyne, Millar), 12:07. Penalties—Smith Sea (roughing), 7:44.
Shots on Goal—Everett 16-9-9-34. Seattle 7-13-7-27.
Power Play Opportunities—Everett 1 / 2; Seattle 0 / 1.
Goalies—Everett, Hart 17-9-0-2 (27 shots-26 saves). Seattle, Flodell 11-6-2-0 (34 shots-30 saves).
For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter @jessegeleynse.