KENT — One night after their best win of the season — when they ended Portland’s 21-game winning streak, 4-1 — the Seattle Thunderbirds were back on the other end of the roller coaster with a 3-1 loss to the Everett Silvertips.
“We were really on fire last night, really happy with the win, and tonight we just weren’t ready to go when the puck was dropped,” Seattle defenseman Adam Henry said. “Last night was probably our best effort all year. Tonight, not so much.”
Seattle’s lackluster start led to Everett outshooting the T-birds 16-6 in the first period. The Silvertips emerged with a 1-0 lead when Ivan Nikolishin scored on a 5-on-3 power play.
Seattle tied it on the 10th goal of the season by Jaimen Yakubowski, but rookie Matt Fonteyne scored his third goal of the season to put the Silvertips back on top with 85 seconds to go in the period. After Seattle had several good chances to tie the game late in the third period, Carson Stadnyk iced the win for Everett with an empty-net power-play goal.
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While there are only seven games left in the regular season for both teams, there’s still a lot at stake.
The win puts Everett at 33-23-7-2 — and only three points behind Spokane for fifth place. Should the Silvertips catch the Chiefs they would most likely meet Seattle, solidly in fourth, in the first round of the playoffs.
“Definitely, we’re making a push to maybe slip into fifth place,” Everett goaltender Austin Lotz said after stopping 24 of 25 shots. “The boys have been playing good and worked really hard tonight. I’m definitely proud of them. This is one we definitely wanted.”
Seattle leads the season series 5-4 — six of the games decided by one goal — with one game left Saturday in Kent.
“We play them 10 times a year, so we get to know them pretty well, and it’s definitely a heated rivalry,” Lotz said. “I think we have a great playoff team. Hopefully we can keep what we’re doing going and make a push and maybe make a run in the playoffs.”
Seattle fell to 39-20-2-4 as it continues to struggle to find consistency.
“They won the game in the first period, no doubt about it,” Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “We have to get better at starting games. We were definitely flat to start.”
Konowalchuk said it’s too early to start predicting playoff matchups, but he’s aware it still could be the Silvertips.
“Our games have been tight all year,” Konowalchuk said. “We know that they’re chasing Spokane and that they’re close. We can’t worry about that too much. We still have get a few points to make sure Spokane is behind us, too.”