Updated Feb 16, 2013 - 11:53 pm
T-Birds catch Everett with big 4-1 win
Jerret Smith and Justin Hickman celebrate a big third period goal against Everett (photo Christopher Mast/Mast Images)
By Andrew Eide
EVERETT - The Seattle Thunderbirds skated into a sold out Comcast Arena Saturday night to face an Everett Silvertips club they've been chasing for seventh place in the west. When the final horn sounded they had earned a solid 4-1 victory and made some up some much needed ground in the Western Conference playoff race. Seattle clung to a 2-1 lead until late in the third when Adam Kambeitz tipped home a point shot that snuck by Everett goalie Daniel Cotton.
"Good solid game," head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. "I thought we came out good in the first period, played hard, played smart. I didn't like the penalties we had, kind of stole our momentum away but our penalty kill was really strong and gave us a chance to win the game."
The two teams had been struggling as Seattle (20-32-6-1) had lost seven in a row and Everett (21-34-1-4) had lost nine in a row. With playoff spots on the line the game, and the big crowd, had a playoff feel to it.
"That was a huge win," said goalie Brandon Glover. "Obviously that's probably the biggest game we've played so far this year and they're going to keep getting bigger for us, and for me personally that was a huge game because I had been slumping a little bit and coach kind of sent a message to me by not playing me last game and I think I responded well."
Seattle started the game well, playing tight defense and limiting Everett's chances. Then, like the night before, they got into some penalty trouble and ended up down two men for a full minute of play. They killed off the two-man advantage with some nice shot blocking by Luke Lockhart and Kambeitz, and solid goaltending by Brandon Glover.
Everett still had time on the power play however and Manraj Hayer was able to break into the zone and fire a nice wrist shot past Glover to give the Silvertips the lead.
The goal did not deflate Seattle however and they struck back quickly, only a minute later, as Justin Hickman found Alex Delnov wide open in the slot for a goal. It was Delnov's 18th of the season and seemed to ignite Seattle's bench. Seattle got the lead 50 seconds later as Roberts Lipsbergs beat Cotton for his team leading 22nd goal of the year.
"We came out pretty good," Konowalchuk said. "We take the penalties, guys did a really good job blocking shots, sacrificing to kill the first part of that off, we don't clear the puck and they capitalize, their guy made a great shot on that end and its frustrating when you think your doing everything right, but we came back bang-bang and scored those two goals, it was huge."
The second period saw both teams get some chances but niether could find the net. Seattle then faced another third period where they had a one goal lead. Lately that has been when they have found themselves in trouble and have watched those leads get blown.
Instead of sitting back in the third the T-Birds kept pushing the matter and ended up out shooting the Silvertips 9-3 in the final frame. Seattle had two power plays back to back and got some chances but could not bury them. These are the kind of missed opportunities that have come back to bite them in the last month of the season. They finally were able to break through, just as the second power play was ending, when Kambeitz tipped the puck past Glover.
"It was big," Konowalchuk said of the goal. "I tell you what, I was getting pretty upset when we had a couple of point blank chances to shoot and we're trying to pass it, what the heck are we doing there but we did get that third goal."
The goal gave Seattle a two-goal lead with just over five minutes left and that's when Glover and the defense shut the door and closed out the win. The defense made nice blocks and Glover ended up making 20 saves on 21 shots and stoned the Silvertips on every good chance they managed to get.
"Can't say enough about them (Seattle's defense)," Glover said. "It was not just the defenseman either, it was the forwards, Mitch Elliot with a big block at the end. There were a lot of good efforts in our end and we're going to continue to do that, get wins, that's how you get wins down the stretch."
With the win Seattle now is tied with Everett for seventh in the Western Conference race. They have a game in hand on Everett and will play them again next Saturday in Kent. Before that game however the T-Birds will play Vancouver on Sunday in Kent with a chance to pull ahead of the idle Silvertips.
"It was a big game," Konowalchuk said of the win. "It was definitely a playoff game for us, no doubt about it, we didn't hide from it. You know, we addressed it before that it was a playoff game and we wanted to see which one of our guys would step up, if not several, I thought it was a pretty good response."
The win snapped Everett's three game win streak against Seattle. The T-Birds won the first three and are now 4-2-1-0 against the Silvertips this season.
Konowalchuk juggled his lines Saturday by breaking up the Connor Honey line. As the game wore on he reunited Lipsbergs with Honey but had Kambeitz center it instead of Delnov. "Kambeitz has played really well since he's been here," Konowalchuk said. "And Lockhart, and at the end of the day those are the two centers, veteran 20-year-old centers that play both ends of the ice and chip in offensively. I wanted to give them a chance also in big moments."
Konowalchuk mentioned that he might go with a similar line up Sunday in the rematch against Vancouver.
Justin Hickman picked up two assists Saturday and finished with a +3 on the night. He missed the two games last weekend with an injury and getting him back for this big weekend is huge for Seattle. Hickman is a versatile player who plays both ends of the ice, is physical and can contribute offensively.
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.