(1090 The Fan) — Just when it appeared Seattle would drop another close game to a division rival, its two European players saved the day.
Roberts Lipsbergs and Alexander Delnov combined to deliver seven points, including the late equalizer and overtime game-winner, as Seattle stunned Spokane with a 4-3 overtime victory, Saturday.
“Good resilience to get the win,” Thunderbirds’ head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “We found a way to get the win, that’s the bottom line, but I’ll tell you what, the casual moments on (Spokane’s) goals…we got to smarten up. We can’t have that.”
Seattle (25-14-2-3), trailed 3-2 with less than three minutes remaining and it looked like the team was headed for its sixth loss in its last eight games.
But coach Konowalchuk called his team’s timeout with 2:30 remaining, got in his team’s ear and pulled goalie Danny Mumaugh to give the T-Birds a man advantage.
As a result, Lipsbergs scored his second of the season at 17:46, beating Spokane goalie Eric Williams over his left shoulder from the near circle. Lipsbergs finished with four points, including two assists, to increase his point total to 38 this season.
In the overtime period, the 19-year-old Latvian left the puck at the blue line for Delnov who one-timed a slapshot past Williams to give Seattle a win in its return home from a long five game road trip.
The chemistry between the two Eastern Europeans was obvious, Saturday. With Branden Troock and Mathew Barzal sidelined with injuries, Delnov and Lipsbergs found themselves skating alongside each other for the majority of the game versus Spokane. They took advantage of it.
“They’re offensive talent, they need to step up their game when guys are out and they’ve done that,” Konowalchuk said about Delnov and Lipsbergs.
Spokane (26-13-1-2) and Seattle came into Saturday’s contest separated by just one point in the U.S. Division standings. With the win, Seattle is now 4-0 versus the Chiefs this season.
The Chiefs actually never trailed until Delnov’s game-winner.
Spokane took a 1-0 lead as the first period came to a close when Mike Aviani earned his 30th goal of the season after a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing display in front of the Seattle net.
Then, in the second period, T-Birds connected on 2-of-3 power play opportunities to tie the score 2-2.
With 2:57 gone, Seattle’s Delnov took control of a rebound and put it past Chiefs goalie Eric Williams for his first goal of the game. The Chiefs regained the lead moments later when Connor Chartier netted his eighth goal of the season 5:53 in.
As the period wound to a close, Seattle gained another man-advantage when Chiefs forward Carter Proft took a major for spearing. Less than a minute into that penalty, Seattle generated a good opportunity in front of the Spokane goal, and Lipsbergs deposited a loose puck into the net to tie the game again.
Chartier scored again in the third period to give the Chiefs a 3-2 lead with just over 13 minutes left, leaving Seattle on the brink of defeat in front of 4,625 at the ShoWare Center.
Two Seattle forwards thought otherwise.
1. SPO Mike Aviani (30) (Holmberg, Fram), 18:56
2. SEA Alexander Delnov (19) (Lipsbergs, Gropp), 2:57 (PP)
3. SPO Connor Chartier (8) (Wedman, Stewart), 5:53
4. SEA Roberts Lipsbergs (24) (Henry, Gropp), 16:06 (PP)
5. SPO Connor Chartier (9) (Stewart), 6:53
6. SEA Roberts Lipsbergs (25) (Delnov, Theodore), 17:46
7. SEA Alexander Delnov (20) (Lipsbergs, Theodore), 2:14
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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