Sunday, November 6, 2016
Silvertips extend Portland's losing streak to seven with 5-2 win
If the current seven-game losing streak for the Portland Winterhawks could be summed up in one word it would be "unfortunate." If you don't count late-game empty-net-goals, they've dropped all seen games by one goal. During all of those games Portland had golden chances to tie the game late, but were victimized by great saves by opposing goalies, struck posts or had pucks that would just not settle down for them. The fact that, even with all of those late pushes, they were unable to force overtime is puzzling. They have also seen their share of goals scored the other way off of their own players or set up by blocked shots that fell right onto the sticks of lucky players.
However, even when the puck-luck isn't going your way, you need to play smart and not take penalties. That is what befell Portland Saturday night in Everett. Against a team that is remarkably strong at drawing penalties, they let their emotions get away from them many times taking eight penalties, leading to seven Everett power plays. This was key as Everett scored twice in the first period on the power play, after Portland handed them a five-on-three advantage. This young Winterhawks team has never given up once during this streak and that was the case again Saturday. They peppered Everett goalie Mario Petit with 43 shots, but could not do enough to make up for their early errors, falling 5-2, after the 'Tips added two late empty-net-goals.
Portland started the night's scoring on the power play themselves, as Caleb Jones got Petit thinking shot and smoothly moved the puck to a wide open Skyler McKenzie on the right wing. McKenzie buried it for his 11th goal on the year. Then after Keegan Iverson and Brendan De Jong took consecutive penalties and Everett went on the two-man advantage. First, Kevin Davis floated a seeing-eye shot home and then Noah Juulsen blasted one through. Just like that, it was 2-1 Everett. Portland was upset about both penalty calls, but had the best case on the interference call on Iverson. He threw a hit in on a Silvertips player, while the puck was hung up in his equipment. In all fairness to the officials, they likely didn't see the puck bounce right to the player before Keegan laid his check.
Everett made it a two-goal lead in the second when a shot from Dominic Zwerger was kicked out right to Patrick Bajkov. He then slipped a backhand past an out-of-position Bullion. Both Skyler McKenzie and Ryan Hughes had great looks to cut into the Everett lead, but Petit was able to get just enough of their shots and Everett's d-men did a great job of clearing bodies out so he could contain rebounds.
Portland would finally break through in the third period after a five-on-three power play helped turn the momentum strongly in their favor. Alex Overhardt drove the zone and dropped a pass right to Iverson. The Hawks' captain then sniped a shot from the face off circle past Petit for his eighth goal on the year. After firing 15 other third period shots on Petit and not solving him though, the Silvertips put the game away with empty-net-goals from Zwerger and Riley Sutter.
Portland controlled much of the possession in this game and out shot the 'Tips 43-29 but did not better them where it mattered.
Michael Bullion stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced, while Everett's Mario Petit was marvelous, stopping 41 of 43. He has stopped 126 of the last 132 Portland shots he's seen, counting last year's playoffs.
Portland scored one power play goal one four chances, while Everett scored on two of their seven opportunities. The Hawks PP percentage is back up to 28.0. They are still fourth overall in the league.
-McKenzie's 11th goal puts him in a tie for fifth in goals in the 'Dub. Michael Rasmussen leads the league with 15 markers.
-Joachim Blichfeld and Keegan Iverson both have four-game point streaks going. Blichfeld is sixth in league rookie scoring with 14 points.
-Alex Overhardt got an assist and stopped his point-less streak at eight games. He has played much better as of late and should start producing more often. He is playing a different role for Portland this year, as their checking center, but as a third-year player, is counted on to pitch in offensively as well. He will never be confused for former Winterhawks' sniper Oliver Bjorkstrand when it comes to scoring touch, but he had a couple chances in tight that just did not bounce the right way for him.
-Carter Hart sat out the game with an illness. If he does not feel better, he could end up being held out of the WHL Russia series which starts on Monday in Prince George, B.C.
-Despite the two minor penalties, Iverson had a strong game. Even more impressive then his goal and other good scoring chances, was his strong PK work. Twice, he set up short-handed chances for MnKenzie. The duo was so potent that they may end up gettign more time as the PK forwards then top-unit coming in: Colton Veloso and Alex Overhardt get.
-Three-games in three-nights concludes Sunday evening in Portland. The Hawks hope that fortune goes in their favor enough to stop this losing skid.
-Zwerger has five points in his last three games, while linemate Patrick Bajkov has six in the same span.
-Everett leads the season series vs. Portland 2-0.