EVERETT — The hint of better things to come for the Everett Silvertips was evident Friday night despite a one-goal loss to the visiting Portland Winterhawks.
It took an additional day to come to fruition as the Tips shrugged off more than a week of frustration as they beat the Vancouver Giants 1-0 before 6,411 fans Saturday on Alumni Night at Xfinity Arena.
“I think there was a more positive vibe in the dressing room,” Everett goaltender Carter Hart said. “Coming in for the game today I think everyone felt ready and focused and it felt good to get back in the win column.”
The victory snapped a seven-game winless streak for Everett (31-11-8-2, 72 points), which saw its lead in the U.S. Division drop to four points over second-place Seattle during the span.
“We obviously would have loved better results, but we’re through it,” Everett head coach Kevin Constantine said. “We need the rest as much as we needed the win, but both are very important right now.”
The Tips are now finished with their toughest stretch of the season that saw them play seven games in nine days.
“We barely had enough energy to get this done tonight,” Constantine said. “You could see it in our play-making, our passing, and our finishing lacked that little extra that it takes to accomplish that because there wasn’t any energy left, but the guys managed to get it done so I take my hat off to them.”
Hart saved 21 shots to record his league-best seventh shutout. It was the sort of bounce-back performance the Tips needed after the reigning WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Year was pulled in back-to-back games Wednesday and Friday.
“I think you just have to get back to playing our hockey and I think we did that tonight and even (Friday) night we made a couple big strides the right direction,” Hart said. “I thought tonight we battled hard. We fired 40 shots on net and that shows how well we played.”
Everett actually finished with 41 shots at Vancouver goalie Ryan Kubic who was stellar in a hard-luck loss as the Giants (17-31-2-3, 39 points) have now dropped seven in a row and 13 of their last 14.
The game’s only goal came when Everett’s Bradly Goethals stashed a rebound off the end boards past Kubic’s blocker at 6:12 in the second period to give Everett a 1-0 lead. Ian Walker earned an assist as his point shot bounced to Goethals near the left post. It was Goethals’ third goal of the season and his first tally since Nov. 30 — a span of 18 games.
“It means a lot to end a slump, but it also means a lot to get out of the loss column as a team,” Goethals said. “It’s a team game and it feels good to get that and start winning games here.”
That was all Everett mustered in the second despite firing 15 shots at Kubic and earning four power plays during the frame. The Tips had 30 shots through the first two periods and added 11 more in the final stanza.
Everett finished 0-for-6 on the power play one night after snapping an 0-for-22 skid on the man advantage during the loss to Portland. The Tips tempered that by killing all three penalties they took including a high sticking call on Sean Richards with just 2:25 to play in the game.
“There were some huge blocks, especially on the PK (penalty kill),” Hart said. “The PK did a really good job and it’s been doing really well. We kept the puck down in their end and forechecked hard and just sort of pressured them.”
The Silvertips head east on Tuesday to begin their six-game trek through the WHL’s East Division. Their first matchup occurs at 5:35 p.m. Friday at Brandon. Everett’s next home game won’t come until it plays host to Portland at 7:35 p.m. on Feb. 24.
Silvertips 1, Giants 0
Vancouver 0 0 0 — 0
Everett 0 1 0 — 1
1st Period—No Scoring. Penalties—Wylie Evt (interference), 2:02; Byram Van (hooking), 3:05.
2nd Period—1, Everett, Goethals 3 (King, Walker), 6:12. Penalties—Popowich Van (slashing), 1:35; Popowich Van (interference), 3:56; Centazzo Evt (hooking), 7:20; Hardy Van (hooking), 16:46; Zwerger Evt (hooking), 17:06; Plouffe Van (hooking), 17:57.
3rd Period—No Scoring. Penalties—Ronning Van (tripping), 4:51; Flaman Van (roughing), 13:36; Goethals Evt (roughing), 13:36; Richards Evt (high sticking), 17:35.
Shots on Goal—Vancouver 11-4-6-21. Everett 15-15-11-41.
Power Play Opportunities—Vancouver 0 / 3; Everett 0 / 6.
Goalies—Vancouver, Kubic 14-23-2-3 (41 shots-40 saves). Everett, Hart 20-7-6-1 (21 shots-21 saves).