(1090 The Fan) — A third straight loss — this a 5-2 drubbing at the hands of red-hot Everett — has Seattle’s grip on the fourth seed seeming ever more precarious.
Everett (36-23-7-2) made the one hour trip south playing as well as it has all season sporting a 7-0-0-1 record over its last eight contests and a 1.92 goals against average in its last 12.
None of that changed in front of a season’s best 6,150 at the ShoWare Center, Saturday.
Josh Winquist scored two goals and goalie Austin Lotz provided 31 saves to lead Everett to its sixth straight win.
After a scoreless first period, Everett went to work in the Thunderbirds’ zone after a Jared Hauf charging penalty 1:00 in. Despite seeing that power play killed off by the T-Birds, Everett’s dominant puck possession was rewarded with a goal at 5:33 when Patrick Bajkov shoved home a rebound for the 1-0 lead.
Seattle (39-22-2-4) responded quickly when Jaimen Yakubowski’s breakaway attempt rebounded directly to Shea Theodore skating in on the left side of the goal. Theodore put the pack past Everett goalie Austin Lotz to tie the score 1-1 at 7:32.
Unfortunately for Seattle, the goal did little to slow down Everett.
Josh Winquist took a feed from center Ivan Nikolishin on the left wing and made a nice move on Seattle netminder Taran Kozun as he skated hard to the goal for his 42nd of the season at 13:02. Then, after Roberts Lipsbergs got tagged with a delay of game penalty at 14:51 for knocking Seattle’s net off of its moorings, Dawson Leedahl gave the Silvertips a 3-1 lead with under four minutes to play in the period.
If the T-Birds held any hope of securing a comeback win, those hopes were dashed almost immediately as the third period got under way. Remi Laurencelle simply skated right past a lackadaisical Seattle defender to take control of the puck just behind the goal line, center a pass to teammate Zane Jones who went top shelf to beat Kozun for a 4-1 lead at 2:14.
“We quit playing,” Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “A really disappointing second (period) and the start of the third, we weren’t even moving. We have some key guys who aren’t playing the way they need to.”
With the two teams appearing to be on a collision course for a first-round playoff series, Everett’s recent run, topped by three straight over the T-Birds, gives them a decided edge.
After the night’s games, Everett remained just a point back of Spokane, 82-81, for the fifth seed out of the Western Conference with four games left on the docket. Seattle with 84 points, holds a slight lead on both for the fourth seed and the home-ice advantage.
But that lead is slipping away.
“It looked a lot better,” Konowalchuk said of the team’s hold on the fourth seed. “We have to win some games and we talk about it, the guys know we aren’t going to get any help.”
That’s unlikely with the way Everett is currently playing, and with its five remaining games featuring two more against Portland and another against Spokane, Seattle knows it must return to the play that saw them play perhaps its best game of the season against the Winterhawks last Saturday.
“Last Saturday against Portland we played a 60-minute game and we dominated one of the best teams in the league,” Seattle defenseman Adam Henry noted. “We’re all accountable, so I mean we got to find it within ourselves as a group and we gotta figure it out cause we only have a week left before the playoffs.
“We know we can do it. We know we have the guys in this room that can go and win a championship.”
Now they just need to show it.
1. EVT Patrick Bajkov (9) (Davis, Mueller), 5:33
2. SEA Shea Theodore (20) (Yakubowski, McKechnie), 7:32
3. EVT Josh Winquist (42) (Nikolishin, Khaira), 13:02
4. EVT Dawson Leedahl (7) (Khaira, Pufahl), 16:12 (PP)
5. EVT Zane Jones (12) (Laurencelle), 2:14
6. SEA Russell Maxwell (15) (Delnov, Yakubowski), 8:44 (PP)
7. EVT Josh Winquist (43) (Nikolishin), 18:15 (EN)
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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