KENT — Time and again heartbreak has visited the Everett Silvertips at ShoWare Center.
Tuesday night was simply the latest when Mathew Barzal potted the game-winner in overtime as the Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Tips 5-4 in overtime in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals before 5,141 fans.
The win gives the T-birds a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Everett finished 0-4-1 at ShoWare during the regular season and Tuesday’s loss means they’ll have to break that winless string if they’re going to extend the series.
The overtime game-winner was the second goal of the game for Barzal, the Western Conference Player of the Year. He scored a third-period equalizer and also added an assist as the T-birds pushed Everett to the brink of elimination.
“He’s slippery, he’s good, he spent part of the year in the NHL,” Everett head coach Kevin Constantine said. “If you look at his line — not just against us — but you look at his line all year it’s been very difficult for anybody to stop them and you never will. He’s the closest thing to an NHL player in our league right now and you just try to defend in a way that you just hope he doesn’t get too many against you, but he’s going to get some points against you.”
Barzal’s first goal came at 4:23 in the third when he circled the Everett zone with the puck and fired a wrister from the left point to beat Everett goalie Carter Hart and tie the game 4-4.
That came after Everett had improbably erased a 3-0 deficit with four unanswered goals in the second.
“I’ve never seen the group ever quit,” Constantine said. “It’s hard to do against that team and you don’t want to put yourself in that situation necessarily, but the guys, I’ve been with them 100 games now and I’ve never seen them quit.”
The Thunderbirds seemed poised to begin pulling away when they scored twice in the first 3:33 of the second period to open up a 3-0 lead.
The first came just 32 seconds in when Nolan Volcan followed a loose puck following a point shot and knocked it by Hart for a 2-0 advantage.
Then some sloppy puck handling by Everett in its own zone resulted in an Alexander True wrister from the right circle to beat Hart for a three-goal lead.
That seemed to awaken the Tips.
Dominic Zwerger got the comeback started when he drove to the net front on a breakaway while drawing a delayed hooking penalty on Barzal. The initial shot went wide, but Aaron Irving was waiting at the goal line and fired a tough-angled shot past Seattle goalie Carl Stankowski to make it 3-1 at 7:32.
Less than two minutes later the Tips earned a power-play and Eetu Tuulola crashed the net and batted a rebound past Stankowski to cut the deficit to one at 9:41. Then another power play led to a Zwerger one-timer from the left circle to tie the game at 13:29.
Those were the first two power-play goals for Everett in the series against Stankowski, a 2000-born rookie who is 7-0 in the postseason.
“We just got pucks on net and they ended up going in,” Everett captain Noah Juulsen said. “For next game we’ve just gotta do that again.”
Tuulola then gave the Tips their first lead of the game with an unassisted one-timer from the right circle that beat Stankowski blocker side for a 4-3 advantage at 14:37.
“For us it was big to come back and get a lead going into the third,” Juulsen said. “(It’s) just not how we wanted to end it.”
Tuulola had an assist in addition to his two goals and came up with three key blocks on Seattle power plays.
“He played very good,” Constantine said. “He was effective, I thought, everywhere: penalty killing, power play. I thought he played a pretty complete game for us.”
The T-birds took their initial lead at 12:35 in the first when Barzal fed a perfect saucer pass to Keegan Kolesar’s tape on the rush. Kolesar drove to the net front and Hart pushed the initial shot wide, but as Kolesar skated by he banged the puck off Hart and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
“(Barzal) is just an all-around great player,” Juulsen said. “There are a lot of great players on that team and he’s just one of them who does a great job every night.”
Game 4 is scheduled for Friday at 7:35 p.m. at ShoWare Center.
Thunderbirds 5, Silvertips 4 OT
Everett 0 4 0 0 — 4
Seattle 1 2 1 1 — 5
1st Period—1, Seattle, Kolesar 4 (Barzal, Hyman), 12:35. Penalties—Wylie Evt (embellishment), 7:58; Moilanen Sea (tripping), 15:32.
2nd Period—2, Seattle, Volcan 3 (Moilanen, Bear), 0:32. 3, Seattle, True 4 (Andrusiak, Wedman), 3:33. 4, Everett, Irving 2 (Zwerger), 7:22. 5, Everett, Tuulola 5 (Davis, Zwerger), 9:41 (PP). 6, Everett, Zwerger 3 (Bajkov, Tuulola), 13:29 (PP). 7, Everett, Tuulola 6 14:37. Penalties—Adams Sea (hooking), 8:58; Eansor Sea (hooking), 11:47; Bajkov Evt (high sticking), 15:36.
3rd Period—8, Seattle, Barzal 2 (Neuls), 4:23. Penalties—No Penalties
OT Period—9, Seattle, Barzal 3 (Gropp), 1:30. Penalties—No Penalties
Shots on Goal—Everett 6-9-3-0-18. Seattle 10-12-10-1-33.
Power Play Opportunities—Everett 2 / 3; Seattle 0 / 2.
Goalies—Everett, Hart (33 shots-28 saves). Seattle, Stankowski (18 shots-14 saves).
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