EVERETT — If playoff hockey is all about low-scoring games and squeezing out the close ones, the Everett Silvertips should feel right at home.
And so far, that’s exactly how the Silvertips feel.
Everett grabbed the lead and held firmly onto it Saturday night, defeating the Spokane Chiefs 3-0 in Game 2 of the first round Western Hockey League playoff series.
Chad Bassen scored twice, Marc Desloges added an empty-net goal and goalie Jeff Harvey made 22 saves for Everett, which took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 3 is Tuesday in Spokane.
"We’re excited to have a 2-0 lead, but I wouldn’t say we’re confident of winning the series," Bassen said. "We did our job by winning at home, but they play well in their building, they have great fans and we’re going to have to come out and play hard because they need a win."
Play tends to tighten up and goals tend to become more precious in the playoffs, and that plays straight into Everett’s strengths. The Silvertips won the U.S. Division despite scoring the third-fewest goals in the WHL. Everett went 16-7-0-2 in one-goal games during the regular season and 28-0-2 when leading after two periods.
Bassen brought those numbers into play at 15 minutes, 6 seconds of the second period. With the game scoreless, Ryan Blatchford’s pass up ice just eluded Spokane defenseman Gary Gladue and put Bassen clean through on goal. Bassen skated in and beat Spokane goalie Jim Watt to his stick side, giving the Tips the lead.
From there, Everett’s defense dominated. Spokane barely had a sniff of Everett’s goal after Bassen scored and it was Everett that had the best scoring chances the rest of the game. Bassen finally made the victory secure with 4:27 remaining in the game, putting in a rebound after John Dahl’s breakaway attempt. Desloges then scored into an empty net with 19.1 seconds remaining.
"We were in a little bit of a lull (in the second period)," Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. "They were clearly the more desperate team through the middle of the second. Fortunately we survived that, and once we got a lead we played pretty good defense."
Harvey was rarely tested in registering his first career playoff shutout.
"In a tight game like that, one mistake and the puck can go into the net, so you’ve got to be focused for 60 minutes," Harvey said. "They came hard and had a few chances at the end, but once again the credit goes to my teammates for keeping the chances to a minimum. That’s playoff hockey, low chances."
Spokane now has just one goal in 51 shots against Harvey in the series.
"We’re just disappointed that we didn’t have a better effort in these two games," Spokane coach Al Conroy said. "We definitely have to do some more to get the results we need."
For the second straight night the teams played a scoreless first period, but unlike Game 1, this time it wasn’t for a lack of chances. Harvey twice had to be sharp on follow-ups after giving up rebounds in front, and Watt saved shots from Martin Ruzicka, Desloges and Zach Hamill in one mad scramble in front of the Spokane goal.
It seemed that Everett had taken the lead at 10:18 of the second period when Barry Horman put in a rebound on the power play. However, the goal was waived off because the goal post became dislodged before the puck crossed the line.
But five minutes later, the Silvertips did claim the lead on Bassen’s first goal. Then Bassen put the game away at 15:33 of the third. Dahl skated in on a two-on-one and Watt had to make a sprawling save to block Dahl. But Bassen was there to clean up the rebound to make it 2-0.
Slap shots: Everett right wing Torrie Wheat, one of the team’s key checking forwards, left the game in the third period after being checked into the boards. His status is unknown. … Everett left wing Jeff Schmidt, another of the Silvertips’ key defensive forwards, was scratched Saturday because of a shoulder injury suffered in Game 1. Schmidt may miss the remainder of the playoffs. Everett’s other injury worry from Friday, center Riley Armstrong who left the game in the third period, recovered in time to play Saturday. … Spokane played without defenseman Scott Lynch. Lynch, voted the team’s top defenseman, was suspended one game for the hit that injured Schmidt. The WHL will review tape of the hit Monday to determine whether any further suspension is warranted.
Second period—1, Everett, Bassen 1 (Blatchford, Wilson), 15:06.
Third period—2, Everett, Bassen 2 (Dahl, Horman), 15:33. 3, Everett, Desloges 1 (Nathe), 19:40 (en).
Shots on goal—Spokane 10-5-7—22. Everett 7-7-15—29. Power-play opportunities—Spokane 0 of 5. Everett 0 of 6.
Goalies—Spokane, Watt 0-2 (29 shots, 26 saves). Everett, Harvey 2-0 (22 shots, 22 saves).