Mathew Barzal goals lead T-Birds to 3-2 overtime win over Everett
KENT – Needing a win against the first-place Everett Silvertips, the Thunderbirds got a big game from their best player Saturday night.
Mathew Barzal scored twice for Seattle, including the overtime game-winner as the T-Birds picked up a 3-2 victory over the Silvertips.
It took just 35 seconds in the extra frame for Barzal to strike.
He picked up the puck in front of his own net and flew down the ice. He made a couple of quick moves and fired a shot over Everett goalie Carter Hart’s blocker, emptying the Seattle bench and bringing the 4,049 fans at the ShoWare Center to their feet.
“I saw a little opening in the neutral zone and just took it,” Barzal said of the goal. “I had some luck with some moves earlier in the game and just put this one on net.”
It was Barzal’s second game back since playing for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in Finland. It took him a night to find his legs, but once he did, he picked up where he left off before the tournament.
“Great play, the first goal too,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “I mean those are NHL shots and he’s going against one of the best defensive defensmen in the league in overtime and he makes a nice move and good shot.”
Barzal centers Seattle’s top line, which was in on all three of the T-Birds goals Saturday night.
Keegan Kolesar got Seattle (22-14-3-0) on the board in the first period after a Jared Hauf shot rebounded off of Hart’s pad’s and into the high slot. Kolesar buried it for his 18th of the season.
Barzal would extend the Seattle lead when he broke down on the wing and ripped a shot over Hart’s glove after Ryan Gropp fed him with a nice cross-ice pass.
The Silvertips are one of the toughest defensive teams in the league and getting an 2-0 lead on them was big.
Everett (23-12-1-2) didn’t go quietly however and in the second period they got into their game plan of turning pucks over in the neutral zone and chipping them back into the Seattle zone. They got the momentum on their side and would eventually tie the game on goals by Remi Laurencelle late in the second and Matt Fonteyne early in the third.
“They’re going to deflect in and go to work,” Konowalchuk said of the Silvertips. “You can stop that sometimes but if they’re going to stand there and deflect in, go back and grind it out and keep it to the outside.”
Despite the game getting tied the T-Birds worked hard to limit Everett chances and steered the game into overtime despite two third period penalties that Seattle had to kill.
“We get two late kills there,” Barzal said. “I thought one of the calls was kind of weak but that’s the way it goes. You’ve just got to bear down.”
In many ways, Seattle needed to get a win against Everett. They had lost the two previous meetings and only managed to beat Hart with one goal. With the U.S. Division as tight as it is, every point is key.
“It’s big,” Konowalchuk said. “Right now they’ve got ton of confidence and they’re playing all together and you have to work for everything for 60 minutes and it was good to get the win against them.”
In the past games, the T-Birds struggled to manage the puck and would get frustrated into too many turnovers. Saturday they stuck with their game plan and got the win.
“I thought our D-zone coverage (was good) and our D did a nice job of keeping the play to the out side,” Konowalchuk said. “You’ve got to be able to grind it out and go back for pucks.”
The T-Birds will now hit the road for two games in Prince George on Tuesday and Wednesday.
• The T-Birds handed Everett their first overtime loss on Saturday. Coming into the contest the Silvertips were 6-0 in games decided in overtime.
• Ryan Gropp had assists on all three Seattle goals Saturday night.
• Landon Bow was good again in only his second start with the team. He made 29 saves to go to 2-0 as a T-Bird.
• Despite giving up 31 shots the T-Birds defense was strong on Saturday. Most of the shots were from the outside and the group got plenty of praise from Konowalchuk after the game.
Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.