T-Birds catch Everett with shootout win, move into tie for first place
EVERETT – In the fifth round of an epic shootout Friday night in Everett, Seattle Thunderbirds’ goalie Landon Bow was beat.
Everett’s Remi Laurencelle had him down and an empty net to shoot at for the win. He took the shot but Bow dove back and somehow got his stick on it to keep the T-Birds alive.
Two shooters later, Nolan Volcan would beat Carter Hart to give Seattle a share of first place in the U.S. Division as the T-Birds beat the Silvertips 2-1.
“He made a good move and he beat me,” Bow said of Laurencelle. “I just reached back and put the stick down and hoped for something good to happen.”
Something good did happen, and for Volcan perhaps an ounce of good karma at XFinity.
In Seattle’s last visit to Everett it was Volcan’s innocent dump-in attempt that hit the stanchion on the glass and took a bad bounce. That bounce led to a last-second Silvertips goal to win the game.
Friday night he won the game with his shootout conversion. He was the seventh shooter for Seattle as Hart was just as tough as Bow was to beat. Volcan waited until his number was called.
“I was itching for it,” Volcan said. “I knew it was coming pretty soon. I saw the other guys deking and I thought I’d just shoot low blocker and see how it goes.”
He slid the puck past Hart and when Bow stopped Matt Fonteyne at the other end the T-Birds had finally caught the Silvertips. It’s the second straight win over an Everett team that the T-Birds have struggled with all year.
It’s also Seattle’s sixth straight win and 10th in its last 11 contests as it now shares the U.S. Division top spot with its northern rivals.
Bow was the star for Seattle as the 20 year old made 40 saves on the night and was big in the overtime and second period. He kept the T-Birds in it with what may have been his best performance in a Seattle sweater since coming over at the trade deadline from Swift Current.
“I think it was a good 60-minute effort,” Bow said. “The boys played hard too. It’s going to be a 60-minute effort against Everett. It’s not going to be easy, especially playing here. It’s not an easy barn.”
With a big, amped up crowd the game had a definite playoff atmosphere and Seattle came ready to play. The T-Birds played a strong first period and took an early lead when Mathew Barzal picked the puck up with speed in the neutral zone. He got it to Nick Holowko, who drove the net and drew the Everett defenders with him. He then slid it over to Gropp for the easy tap in and his 33rd goal of the season.
With a lead, the T-Birds had to lean on Bow in the second period.
Everett pushed back and the T-Birds found themselves in some penalty trouble. Most notably Seattle had to kill off an extended five-on-three chance midway through the period.
Bow and the T-Birds’ penalty killers were up to the task.
“In the second period (the penalty kill) was really huge,” head coach Steve Konowlchuk said. “We got in a little bit of trouble there and we needed some saves. We want to be less reliant on our goalie.”
Seattle ended the evening by killing off all five of Everett’s power-play chances.
The T-Birds have had some tough luck in Everett this year and have given up some late goals that have led to frustrating losses.
The Silvertips would push hard in the third period to find another late-game marker. Bow was holding them at bay until the 17:15 mark of the third period when Connor Dewar managed to fire a rebound past Bow to tie the game.
It couldn’t happen again, could it?
“When they scored maybe we thought it was happening again,” Volcan said. “But we had a good OT period and shootout.”
The T-Birds got through the remainder of the third period and neither goalie relented in the overtime, bringing the game to the shootout.
When the first three shooters were stopped, Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk had to dig deeper to find a shooter. He chose some players you normally wouldn’t think of being part of the shootout. Josh Uhrich and Jerret Smith were given chances, but Hart stood tall.
“I wanted to pick guys that were a little bit unpredictable,” Konowalchuk said. “That’s a good goalie over there and if he sees predictable shooters he’s going to be good. I was thinking that we have a couple of guys that have a couple of good moves.”
While those guys didn’t score, Volcan did, and the T-Birds picked up a big point on Everett.
As big as being in first place is, it won’t mean much if the T-Birds don’t continue to play good hockey. They have a quick turnaround as the Portland Winterhawks are in town Saturday night.
“Like Steve’s been saying, we’re just taking it one game at a time,” Volcan said. “He said in the room, ‘Enjoy it for two or three hours, and then it’s off to the next game.'”
• The shootout win was only the second of the season for the T-Birds. They previously beat the Prince Albert Raiders on Oct. 10.
• Barzal’s assist in the first period extended his point streak to 12 straight games with at least one point.
• Ethan Bear returned to the lineup for the T-Birds on Saturday but Keegan Kolesar is still out with an upper-body injury.
• While the two teams are tied with 79 points, Seattle is technically in first place as wins is the first tiebreaker and it has two more than Everett. With the tight race, the division could come down to a tiebreaker.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.