EVERETT – During the regular season, the Everett Silvertips had a script for just about every home game against the Tri-City Americans: get on the power play and score often.
Michael O’Leary / The Herald
Michael O’Leary / The Herald
In the first game of the WHL playoffs the Silvertips followed that script to the letter.
Everett scored what amounted to four power-play goals, and the Tips opened their first-round series with a 4-0 victory over the Americans.
“The first game is always a nice one to win,” Everett captain Torrie Wheat said. “It’s not the deciding factor in a series, it’s one game out of seven and we need four to win the series. It feels good, but the work is definitely far from over.”
Taylor Ellington opened the scoring during a delayed penalty early in the second period – his first career goal – and John Lammers, Zach Hamill and Shane Harper added power-play goals for the Tips.
“We were really clicking,” Tips defenseman Shaun Heshka said about Everett’s power play. “I don’t know what it was. Maybe the guys were that much sharper because it’s a playoff game. But it really paid off for us today and that’s pretty much the reason we won.”
Leland Irving, appearing in the playoffs for the first time in his career, made 27 saves to earn the shutout in goal for Everett. Several of his biggest stops came during a lengthy Tri-City five-on-three power play that ended the second period.
But it was Everett’s power play that proved the difference. The Tips had a top power-play all season long, but Friday night they were as good as they’ve been. Everett moved the puck like it was on a zip line, and the Tips finished 3-for-5 with the advantage.
“Thank God because we didn’t really have much else going in our game,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. “I thought our five-on-five play was way below our capability level, so thank God our power play was sharp.”
Everett’s power play was also the deciding factor between the two teams when they played at the Everett Events Center during the regular season. The Tips scored 17 power-play goals in those five games, winning all five.
“It was good tonight,” Tri-City coach Don Nachbaur said about Everett’s power play. “They had us running all over tonight. We didn’t get to any loose pucks and that was the key. They beat us to all the loose pucks and their puck movement was outstanding.”
As good as Everett’s power play was, it was a goal not considered a power-play goal that created the breakthrough.
Tri-City actually controlled much of the play during a scoreless first period, outshooting Everett 14-7. But early in the second period Everett was on a delayed penalty and played it just like a power play, with Irving pulled for an extra skater. The Tips played keep-away until Heshka got an open shot at the point. The puck deflected to the left slot, where Ellington was there to put it into an open net at 3 minutes, 30 seconds.
“I’ve been waiting a while, but I couldn’t have picked a better time for it to come,” Ellington said about his first goal in two seasons.
From there the floodgates opened. Everett scored on each of its remaining three power plays, all three goals coming as a result of good puck movement. Everett made it 2-0 at 13:41, Lammers scoring from the slot after a feed from Wheat. It was 3-0 at 16:42, when Hamill put in a rebound from a tight angle. The Tips added the fourth goal late, Harper tipping in a shot at the post from a nice feed from Hamill with 2:23 remaining.
Carey Price finished with 22 saves in goal for the Americans.
Slap shots: Everett apparently got hit by the flu bug at the wrong time as influential forwards Brady Calla and Ondrej Fiala were both scratched because of the ailment. Also, defenseman Cody Thoring, still bothered by a sprained ankle, did not play. … The Americans displayed solidarity for the playoffs by having every player bleach his hair. … Tri-City finished 0-for-4 on the power play.
Silvertips 4, Americans 0
First Period-No goals. Penalties-Mueller, Everett (tripping), 5:52; Fransoo, Everett (interference), 9:52; Jones, Tri-City (hooking), 14:25.
Second Period-1, Everett, Ellington 1 (Heshka, Wheat), 3:30. 2, Everett, Lammers 1 (Wheat, Heshka), 13:41 (pp). 3, Everett, Hamill 1 (Doyle, Fransoo), 16:42 (pp). Penalties-Inglis, Tri-City (delay of game) 10:12; Price, Tri-City (delay of game, served by Beeman), 12:46; Stephenson, Tri-City (tripping), 14:58; Ellington, Everett (hold stick), 18:09; Potuer, Everett (delay of game), 18:23.
Third Period-4, Everett, Harper 1 (Hamill, Kress), 17:37 (pp). Penalties-Stephenson, Tri-City (hold stick), 17:08.
Shots on goal-Tri-City 14-10-3-27. Everett 7-15-4-26. Power-play opportunities-Tri-City 0 of 4. Everett 3 of 5.
Goalies-Tri-City, Price 0-1 (26 shots, 22 saves). Everett, Irving 1-0 (27 shots, 27 saves).
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