EVERETT – The Everett Silvertips’ offense was missing.
Amidst a flood of bad breaks, bad bounces and blocked shots, Everett’s offense went absent in the Silvertips’ previous two games against the Spokane Chiefs.
However, the pent-up frustration built up from the time in Spokane came gushing out in the second period Friday night.
Everett’s offense busted out with four goals in 10 minutes, and the Silvertips put themselves on the cusp of the second round with a 5-1 victory over the Chiefs at the Everett Events Center.
Kyle Beach scored two goals and Peter Mueller had a goal and an assist as Everett, after a pair of frustrating losses in Spokane, took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series. The Tips can close out the series with a victory Sunday in Spokane.
“It’s good that we finally got our offense back,” Mueller said. “It’s a good thing to get off our shoulders and hopefully there’s more to come.”
Dan Gendur and Brandon Campos also scored and Zach Hamill had two assists for Everett, which managed just three goals total in the previous two games.
“We had to win this one,” Beach said. “We couldn’t afford to go back to Spokane down 3-2 in the series. Now we have a bit of breathing room, but we’ve got to get right back on the pedal and hopefully finish it over there.”
Leland Irving made 20 saves in goal for the Tips.
Derek Ryan scored the lone goal for Spokane. Dustin Tokarski made 30 saves in net for the Chiefs, who hope one series trend continues in Game 6. The home team won each of the first five games.
“Some of our breakdowns were big breakdowns,” Spokane coach Bill Peters said. “Our situational awareness wasn’t perfect. I don’t think it was a 5-1 game, but in saying that they were the better team.”
After a nervous first period from which Everett emerged with a slender one-goal lead, the Tips erupted in the second.
It all began with a tremendous play by Tips defenseman Jesse Zetariuk. Zetariuk, open at the left point, faked a shot and instead sent a slap pass to the far post, where Gendur redirected it in to make it 2-0 at 5 minutes, 8 seconds.
The floodgates opened from there. Beach scored his second goal of the game on the power play 32 seconds later, Mueller winning a faceoff forward for Beach to sweep in, then sweep a shot past Tokarski.
Mueller then scored himself at 7:42 with the Tips short-handed, stripping a Spokane player and breaking away before beating Tokarski with a wrist shot.
Spokane momentarily stunted Everett’s momentum at 9:38 when, just as a five-on-three power play expired, Ryan beat Irving with a wrist shot from a tight angle.
But the Tips restored their four-goal cushion at 14:35, Lukas Vartovnik taking a shot from the right circle in transition that deflected in off the crashing Campos.
It was the type of offensive explosion the Tips hadn’t displayed since their 4-2 victory in Game 1.
“You’ve got to score goals to win games,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. “Sometimes it’s your defense that wins and sometimes it’s your offense. We were able to capitalize a little better in this game than we did in Game 4.”
Everett also got a bit of fortune that had eluded the Tips all series. The game’s opening goal came at the end of a first period in which both teams had their shaky moments. With the Tips on the power play, a nice one-touch pass by Hamill allowed Beach to one-touch a shot into an apparently unguarded net at 18:01. However, Tokarski reached back and plucked Beach’s redirect out of the air as the Tips were celebrating and the goal light went off.
The officials huddled and talked to the goal judge to determine whether the puck crossed the goal line before Tokarski caught it. After a short delay the goal was awarded.
That was a welcome change for Everett, which has been on the wrong side of four disputed goal calls this series.
“The way it’s been going I really thought they were going to call that one back as well,” Beach said.
“There’s been a lot of plays in this series that could have gone either way,” Peters said about the call. “Obviously they’ve got to make a decision and if it’s in your favor it can give you some momentum. If it’s against you, you’ve got to be able to move on and not let it affect you in a negative way. I think that’s one of the things we did, we let it linger a little too long and it compounded the problem.”