EVERETT — Sometimes, a dominant performance by a team isn’t always emblematic of the final score.
Five third-period goals, three of which were scored over the final 2:20, made sure a tilted performance from the Everett Silvertips wouldn’t go unnoticed as such in the boxscore.
Everett, the No. 1 seed in the U.S. Division, walloped the Tri-City Americans, 6-1, to capture Game 1 of a first-round Western Hockey League playoff series on Friday at Angel of the Winds Arena.
“The first win is always the hardest,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “Not that the others aren’t either, but you want to get that first one and move on from there. I thought we just stuck to the gameplan. We kept our consistency with our game. I thought we played with pace and a lot of jam out there and disciplined, not only with our systems but with our emotions. I thought it was a really good effort.”
The Silvertips tilted the ice for the majority of the first two periods, outshooting the Americans 33-9.
But Everett only had one score to show for it, with Connor Dewar’s goal at 17:44 in the first period.
The second period held the same tune, as Everett tilted the ice and created myriad a scoring opportunity. But unlike the first, the Silvertips failed to finish, despite some promising rebound chances and wide-open looks from the slot.
“I thought we came out with one of our better starts, to be honest,” Williams said. “A little tough luck there scoring, but at the end of the day, I’m pretty proud of our effort.”
Was there any frustration after a lack of results?
“I’m sure the players definitely felt it,” Williams said, “but it’s nothing to be upset about. I came in after the first and we had to clean up a few areas, but I really just evaluate our execution and our energy level and compete level. Outside of not scoring, I thought we did a lot of good things.”
The floodgates cracked open slightly with Dewar’s shorthanded goal at 6:54 in the third period. Silvertips forward Max Patterson helped win a board battle and the Silvertips’ captain leaked out for a breakaway, which he finished through Tri-City goaltender Beck Warm’s five-hole to put the Silvertips up 2-0.
“Our penalty kill has done a really good job all year off that and it was a really nice play there,” Williams said. “Especially against a team like that. They’re big, heavy and strong. For us to be able to win that and then Dewey get that separation there coming off that and burying that, it’s probably been a longtime coming for Connor on breakaways, so it was good to see him get that one.”
The Silvertips killed both of Tri-City’s power plays on Saturday, both of which were in the final period.
Patterson tacked on a goal with 7:26 remaining to put the Silvertips up three, clapping a one-timer past Warm’s blocker side.
“It was good work from (Holmes and Andrusiak) down low and a nice pass from Holmes down low to find me in the slot,” Patterson said. “I tried to get it off quick and it was lucky enough to go in.”
Silvertips forward Zack Andrusiak set a screen netfront to shield Warm, who could see it until it whizzed by him.
“He didn’t even move. I think that was all him there. … I thought maybe it was a penalty or something because he didn’t move, but it worked out.”
Nolan Yaremko ended the shutout with a goal at 13:30, but the Silvertips tacked on three more to continue the rout.
Dustin Wolf picked up his first career playoff win, stopping 21 of 22 shots.
Warm saved 43 of 48 shots for Tri-City.
Dewar leaves early
Dewar left for the dressing room early in the third period. He took intermittent shifts after sliding into Warm and knocking the goal off its mooring on the second goal of the game in the third period. He did not skate out on the ice after the game after being named first star and was not made available to the media postgame.
Williams said he didn’t think it was a long-term injury.
“He was good,” Williams said. “At that point, I told (Silvertips trainer Blake Draughon) that he could go rest.”
Power play shakeup
Everett went 1 for 4 on the power play on Friday. Williams featured a different look to his first power-play unit, with Gianni Fairbrother replacing Jake Christiansen at the left point.
“We’re looking for a heavy hitter there on that unit,” Williams said. “It’s something we need to continue to shuffle some pieces around until we get a little better chemistry on it. I thought we’d try (Fairbrother) there this week, and like anything it can change at any time, but I liked the looks on our units.”
Overage confidence boost
Andrusiak put the Silvertips up 4-1 with an empty-net goal with 2:40 remaining. Although it came with no goaltender filling the net, Williams conjectured it could be a nice confidence boost for the overage forward.
“I know it was an empty-netter, but he’s been snake-bitten,” Williams said. “As a goal scorer, you could really second guess yourself. You could see 100-pounds of emotion coming out of him, even on that. That’s good. He earned that because I thought Zack played an unbelievable defensive game away from the puck. He was tracking pucks and finishing his checks. If you play like that, you get rewarded.
“Hopefully (the empty-netter) makes him a little more looser and not tightening his stick as much.”
Andrusiak finished with six shots on net, the second most on Everett on Friday behind Dewar. Many of those looks were encouraging chances.
Cullen pots first
Lucas Cullen, who was added as an affiliate player with just two games remaining in the regular season from the British Columbia Hockey League’s West Kelowna Warriors, scored his first goal with the Silvertips late in the third period, gliding into the crease off a rebound and finishing past Warm. It was also his first career WHL playoff goal in four games (he spent his first two-plus seasons with Calgary).
“It feels really good,” Cullen said. “It’s a good confidence booster.”
Cullen played on Everett’s third line with Reece Vitelli and Dawson Butt. Players added to the roster late in the season aren’t guaranteed playing time, but Cullen appears to have solidified his niche on Everett.
“It’s awesome,” Cullen said. “For me, it’s different for me going into a different league with different paces and expectations, but to play regular shifts and regular minutes, is really nice and a great confidence boost.
— Along with Dewar’s two goals, four other Silvertips’ finished with multi-point outings: Robbie Holmes (two assists), Jake Christiansen (three assists), Patterson (one goal, two assists), Martin Fasko-Rudas (one goal, two assists).
Everett and Tri-City play Game 2 on Saturday, with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop at Angel of the Winds Arena.