(1090 The Fan) — For the second consecutive night, Taran Kozun and Seattle’s penalty kill were too strong for Everett.
Through two games of its best-of-seven playoff series versus its U.S. division rival, Seattle has won the special teams battle decisively while also getting a supreme goal-tending effort. With 26 Kozun saves leading the way, the Thunderbirds won Game 2 3-1 at Comcast Arena in Everett, Sunday to take a 2-0 series lead.
“We’ve got to work for it,” Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “(That is a) pretty darn good hockey team over there.
“They’re a very stingy team over there five-on-five, probably one of the stingiest in the league, so you really have to work…when you get a power play, we need to bear down.”
The win wasn’t without a little bit of luck and acrobatics along the way as well.
Seattle fell behind early this time around when Kozun made an ill-advised decision while playing the puck behind his goal just over three minutes into the first period. A soft pass was stolen away quickly by Silvertips center Brayden Low who found forward Carson Stadnyk in the slot just as Kozun skated back in front of the net. Kozun wasn’t yet set as Stadnyk fired a one-timer right past him to give the Tips a 1-0 lead at 3:51.
The play only seemed to galvanize Kozun, though, as the game wore on. The 19-year-old goaltender admitted the soft goal spurred him to redeem himself.
“I was mad at myself and didn’t want to make another mistake,” Kozun admitted after the game. “In these playoffs you have to have a short memory. If you let one in, you have to move on. It’s not the end of the world, it didn’t cost us the game.”
No it didn’t.
When Roberts Lipsbergs — stationed next to the right post on a 5-on-3 power play — rifled home an Adam Henry pass at 5:01 to tie the score 1-1, Kozun went to work.
The Seattle netminder made big stop after big stop and was afforded some good fortune along the way as he watched several Tips’ shots ring the post or crossbar and ricochet away. There was no more defining moment, though, then when he made a diving stop of a Jujhar Khaira go-ahead goal attempt midway through the second period.
Those saves allowed Seattle to enter a decisive third period knotted in a 1-1 tie. The T-Birds’ offense made sure that it took control early.
While on a 4-on-4, Mathew Barzal took control of the puck near the neutral zone, skated down the left side of Everett’s zone towards goalie Austin Lotz and threaded a beautiful pass to teammate Branden Troock who was streaking down the right side. Troock made a simple move and put the puck past Lotz for a 2-1 Seattle lead at 2:58.
Russell Maxwell then gave Seattle a 2-goal advantage when he scored just as Seattle completed a penalty kill at 8:45. That was all the team would need.
In the end, Kozun and the T-Birds’ penalty kill unit stymied another five Silvertips’ power play chances . The Silvertips are now a paltry 1-for-11 on the power play in the series through two games.
“It’s nice to get a little bit of momentum, but we just go one day at a time here,” said Konowalchuk. “We know we are going to get a real desperate, hungry team going into our building.”
1. EVT Carson Stadnyk (1) (Low), 3:51
2. SEA Roberts Lipsbergs (1) (Henry, Theodore), 5:01 (PP)
3. SEA Branden Troock (1) (Barzal), 2:58
4. SEA Russell Maxwell (2) (Lipsbergs, Theodore), 8:45
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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