Carter Hart makes several spectacular saves, including 23 saves in the first period alone, as the Silvertips earn a 3-1 victory in Kent. Matt Fonteyne scored two goals for Everett.

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Carter Hart is back, and so are the Everett Silvertips.

Hart made 23 saves in a torrid first period for Everett and his teammates finally came alive during a 3-1 Everett victory on Tuesday night at ShoWare Center in Kent. Everett, the U.S. Division champions and the top seed in the Western Conference, now leads the best-of-seven series 2-1 over the eighth-seeded Thunderbirds.

Hart laughed that he was on pace to face 40 shots in the first period alone, something that has never happened to him before in his outstanding career.

Playoff schedule

(Everett leads best-of-seven series, 2-1)

Game 1: Everett 4, Seattle 1

Game 2: Seattle 5, Everett, 4 (OT)

Game 3: Everett 3, Seattle 1

Game 4: Everett @ Seattle, Friday, 7:35 p.m.

Game 5: Seattle @ Everett, Saturday, 7:05 p.m.

Game 6: Everett @ Seattle, Tuesday, April 3, 7:05 p.m.*

Game 7: Seattle @ Everett, Wednesday, April 4, 7:05 p.m.*

* If necessary

“No, I haven’t seen that before,” Hart said with a laugh. “They came out hard and physical and we expected that. After that first period we had to regroup and realize it was a 1-1 game. After that we relaxed, took a deep breath and controlled the remainder of the game.”

When there is a near-sellout crowd, as there was for this game with 5,600 Seattle partisans on hand, job one for any hockey team is to make sure they get involved.

Nolan Volcan did that for the Thunderbirds with a power-play goal only 1:38 into the opening period.

The T-birds poured it on from there, holding a 19-5 shot advantage over the rest of the period. Hart kept his team in the game with several spectacular saves and Everett tied it when Reece Vitelli redirected Gianni Fairbrother’s shot behind Liam Hughes and into the net.

“We also need to bottle that first period and duplicate it for all three periods,” Seattle coach Matt O’Dette said of his team’s 24-shot first period in which the majority came in the opening minutes. I think our composure got away from us a little bit. We were frustrated the way things were going.”

O’Dette was also frustrated that Everett scored the winning goal on a 5-on-3 power play by Matt Fonteyne, who added the clincher with an empty-net goal.

Hart, who will soon win his third straight trophy as the league’s best goaltender, was coming off a decidedly off game when he allowed five goals in an overtime loss to Seattle on Saturday.

“That game was over and done with,” Hart said. “We all came back and did a better job with the guys up front doing a good job boxing out.”