(1090 The Fan) — On the heels of a statement win against Portland, the Seattle Thunderbirds were shut down by Everett in a 3-1 loss. The team came out flat, Sunday, one night after an emotional win over the U.S. Division leaders.
Taran Kozun stopped 27 of 29 shots while Jaimen Yakubowski scored the T-Birds’ lone goal of the night in the second period. On the other side, goalie Austin Lotz had another good game in goal against Seattle, stopping 24 of the 25 shots he faced and the Silvertips received three assists from defenseman Mirco Mueller to lead their scoring.
It’s the second consecutive loss for the Thunderbirds against Everett in a little over a week, with Seattle (39-20-2-4) managing just two goals against the stingy Everett defense. It’s a little concerning for head coach Steve Konowalchuk especially after the effort his team put forth, Saturday. That’s two straight slow starts for the T-Birds against a team it could very well see in the first round of the playoffs.
“The first period they were better than us no doubt about it,” Konowalchuk said. “I thought they won the game in the first period. That’s something that we’ve got to get better at.”
Everett (33-23-7-2) came into Sunday’s contest back to the high-level hockey that their head coach Kevin Constantine was accustomed to seeing through the first two months of the season. At 6-2-0-1 in its last nine, Everett stood sixth in the conference with a playoff spot in its back pocket and still the chance for home ice in the first round dangling in front of them.
In short, the defensive-minded ‘Tips came ready to play and it showed in the first period as the team out-shot Seattle 16-6 to take a 1-0 lead thanks to a power-play goal from Ivan Nikolishin. The Everett center found himself in the perfect spot after Kozun deflected a slap shot to his left at 15:03. The rebound came right to Nikolishin and he wasted little time putting it in the vacant left side of the Seattle goal.
Seattle came out with a much better second 20 minutes, but after Yakubowski tied the score 1-1 at 5:43, the Silvertips were able to score the go-ahead goal when Matt Fonteyne simply beat the Thunderbirds’ defense and put the puck past Kozun at 18:35.
Both teams had their chances in the third period. Seattle came up empty on an early power-play opportunity and again late when Alexander Delnov took the puck strong to the net. Yet, neither team scored until Seattle pulled Kozun with under a minute to play and on the penalty kill. The Silvertips’ Carson Stadnyk broke free of the Seattle defense to score the empty-net goal with just 39 seconds remaining.
“Last night was probably our best effort we’ve had all year, tonight not so much,” Seattle defenseman Adam Henry lamented. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily what they are doing, a big part the last few games against Everett has been our start…Next time we play those guys, we have to make sure we are ready to go right off the bat.”
“We had a good second and third (period), but it’s tough when you get in a hole…they are a tough team to play against when they have the lead.”
With seven games remaining for each squad, Everett trails Spokane by a mere three points for the fifth playoff spot in the Western Conference. That is an important side note to Seattle which currently leads the Chiefs by six points for the fourth slot. Unless Victoria, which has a 10 point cushion on the T-Birds for third, stumbles Seattle will face either whichever team secures the fifth spot.
“We talk about it. We know they are chasing Spokane, they’re close. We can’t worry about that too much. You start worrying about who you play, you’re going to get yourself into trouble,” admitted Konowalchuk.
Regardless, a second straight slow start to a hot Silvertips squad is disconcerting and something Seattle will have to address as it gears up for whatever first-round matchup it receives.
1. EVT Ivan Nikolishin (16) (Mueller, Bajkov), 15:03 (PP)
2. SEA Jaimen Yakubowski (10) (Maxwell), 5:43
3. EVT Matt Fonteyne (3) (Mueller, Lotz), 18:35
4. EVT Carson Stadnyk (19) (Leedahl, Mueller), 19:21 (PP) (EN)
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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