Thanks to 38 saves from Taran Kozun, those goals held up to give Seattle a 2-1 victory over the Silvertips in Game 1 of their best-of-seven playoff series.
The T-Birds will be taking on an Everett squad that enters the playoffs as the hottest team in the league. After an up-and-down season, Everett finished strong when it mattered most, carrying an 11-0-0-2 record over its final 13 games.
With the Thunderbirds’ 6-1 win at Tri-City and the Silvertips’ 5-4 shootout loss to Portland, both teams finished with 88 points. That meant that Seattle (41-25-2-4), by virtue of its higher win total, won the tiebreaker over Everett (39-23-7-3) and earned the No. 4 seed.
The Seattle Thunderbirds emerged from a difficult stretch in which it faced four playoff teams in five nights only to face a weekend of meaningful games with just a two point lead for the No. 4 seed and home-ice advantage.
Seattle dropped its third straight game to Everett in a 5-2 home loss, Saturday. With five games left on its schedule, Seattle is clinging to a 2-point advantage for the fourth seed, and home-ice advantage, in the Western Conference.
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.
Mueller scored at the 10:45 mark of the final period on a drive from the left wing to give the Silvertips a 2-0 lead which felt more like 4-0 considering the lack of shots Seattle was able to generate on Tips goalie Austin Lotz. The win was just the first for Everett in the last four tries at home versus Seattle (37-19-2-3).
Barzal and Gropp, each playing in the midst of their rookie campaigns for Seattle, are clearly two of the brightest young players Seattle has, and both are playing at a high level currently for head coach Steve Konowalchuk.
Seattle (32-15-2-3) has now won 10 of its last 11 games. With 20 games remaining, the team has its sight firmly set on winning the U.S. Division and getting home ice for the playoffs.
One night after struggling on its power play, Seattle (30-15-2-3) rebounded in a big way, Saturday with all four of its goals coming with the man advantage. Shea Theodore was a major part of that all night. The defenseman finished with a goal and three assists for the T-Birds.