EVERETT — Carter Hart is a known commodity at goaltender for the Everett Silvertips.
Hart’s Portland counterpart, Cole Kehler, has been a revelation for the Winterhawks during his overage campaign.
But Wednesday night at Xfinity Arena it was Hart who won the latest duel between the WHL’s top two goaltenders as the Silvertips defeated Portland 4-1 before 3,194 fans.
“I feel pretty good in the net right now,” Hart said. “It helps that we’re playing really good hockey right now. This is our sixth win in a row, so we’re playing pretty good hockey, and the boys are feeling good in the locker room. It’s fun to be a part of right now.”
Hart saw his bid for his 24th career shutout thwarted when Joachim Blichfeld stashed the puck inside the left post at 18:46 in the third period. Hart finished with 28 saves for his 11th victory of the season.
Meanwhile, the red-hot Silvertips (16-12-1-1, 34 points) have won a half-dozen in a row, and their win Wednesday propelled them into second place behind Portland (20-7-0-1, 41 points) in the U.S. Division standings.
Since seeing a 10-game winning streak snapped the Winterhawks have lost four of five.
“The big thing our guys are doing is playing for each other,” head coach Dennis Williams said. “They’re competing hard all the way through. … They’re starting to see some of their hard work pay off, and that’s a good hockey club we had over there tonight that we played. We played them tough the last three games and I’m real proud of our effort for 60 minutes.”
Patrick Bajkov scored twice and tallied an assist, Matt Fonteyne had a goal and an assist and Sean Richards added a pair of helpers as the top line combined for seven points.
“I think our confidence is where it needs to be,” Bajkov said, “and I think coming into this three(-game weekend) after a big win tonight is only going to build it.”
Kehler saved 31 shots, but was pulled after Bajkov’s second goal of the night pushed Everett’s advantage to 4-0 at 5:24 in the final period.
The Tips broke open a scoreless tie with three goals in the second period.
Bajkov struck first at 3:48 in the second period. Richards stole the puck in the Portland zone and found Bajkov in the slot for a quick one-timer past Kehler and a 1-0 Everett lead.
Later in the period, Kehler was penalized for delay of game after covering the puck rather than playing it. On the ensuing power play Jake Christiansen’s wrister from the left circle beat a screened Kehler for a 2-0 Everett advantage at 6:13.
It was Everett’s seventh straight game with a power-play goal.
“Our power play went through a little bit of a drought there, but I think we turned the corner nicely and hopefully we can keep running with that,” Bajkov said.
Everett pushed its lead to three later when penalties on both teams resulted in four-on-four play. Fonteyne found Bajkov outside the left circle. Bajkov walked in on Kehler, then dropped the puck to the trailing Fonteyne, who flicked it into the net at 16:16 for a 3-0 advantage.
“He was able to find himself a nice soft spot and I was able to get it to him,” Bajkov said of his longtime linemate. “He did a great job to bury it.”
The onslaught came after a scoreless opening period during which both teams had chances.
Kehler stoned a Bryce Kindopp breakaway five minutes in, and Connor Dewar rang a shot off the crossbar at 14:30. Those were Everett’s best scoring chances in the first period, one in which the Tips outshot Portland 16-11.
Everett finished the game with a 45-29 shot advantage. The Tips were 1-for-4 on the power play and killed off both penalties.
“To only give up 29 (shots) is pretty good against a team like that that’s pretty skilled offensively,” Hart said. “That just goes to tell you how good our ‘D’ played tonight.”
The Tips play host to Spokane at 7:35 p.m. on Friday. They travel to Portland Saturday and wrap up a four-game week at Tri-City on Sunday.
For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.
Silvertips 4, Winterhawks 1
Portland 0 0 1 — 1
Everett 0 3 1 — 4
1st Period—No Scoring. Penalties—Gilliss Por (major-fighting), 15:42; Butt Evt (major-fighting), 15:42; Colina Por (slashing), 19:17.
2nd Period—1, Everett, Bajkov 16 (Richards), 3:48. 2, Everett, Christiansen 2 (Wylie, Sutter), 6:13 (PP). 3, Everett, Fonteyne 14 (Bajkov, Onyebuchi), 16:16. Penalties—Kehler Por (delay of game), 5:36; Ginnell Por (holding), 11:20; Fonteyne Evt (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 11:20; Newkirk Por (roughing), 15:01; Fairbrother Evt (roughing), 15:01; Newkirk Por (major-fighting, 10-minute misconduct), 17:04; Fairbrother Evt (major-fighting, 10-minute misconduct), 17:04.
3rd Period—4, Everett, Bajkov 17 (Richards, Fonteyne), 5:24. 5, Portland, Blichfeld 12 (Ginnell), 18:46. Penalties—Sutter Evt (slashing), 2:46; Glass Por (checking from behind), 7:56; Richards Evt (holding), 9:44; Ludvig Por (high sticking, roughing), 14:24; Richards Evt (roughing), 14:24; Gricius Por (10-minute misconduct), 19:56; Ormsby Evt (10-minute misconduct), 19:56.
Shots on Goal—Portland 11-11-7-29. Everett 16-18-11-45.
Power Play Opportunities—Portland 0 / 2; Everett 1 / 4.
Goalies—Portland, Kehler 17-4-0-1 (35 shots-31 saves); Farkas 3-3-0-0 (10 shots-10 saves). Everett, Hart 11-3-0-1 (29 shots-28 saves).