Landon Bow, Mathew Barzal lead T-Birds past Everett 2-0

Feb 27, 2016, 11:32 PM | Updated: Feb 28, 2016, 11:29 am
Seattle’s Landon Bow made 24 saves to record his sixth shutout of the season Saturday. (T-Bir...
Seattle's Landon Bow made 24 saves to record his sixth shutout of the season Saturday. (T-Birds photo)
(T-Birds photo)

KENT – The WHL playoffs don’t start for several weeks, but it sure felt like they had arrived Saturday night.

In a big game, Seattle’s best players came through as the T-Birds finally found a way to slip past the Everett Silvertips, beating their rivals 2-0.

Mathew Barzal scored twice and Landon Bow made 24 saves to record his sixth shutout of the season.

“Big players have to come out in big games,” Barzal said. “I thought we had a lot of guys step up tonight. It’s not just me or Bow, it’s everybody… That’s the reason we’re winning.”

It was a tight-checking affair that didn’t feature a ton of ice. The T-Birds brought their hitting skates as they punished the Silvertips defenders all night. Guys like Josh Uhrich and Andreas Schumacher were the main hitters and their hits drew large cheers from the 5,586 in attendance.

The hits were a big part of Seattle’s success but not specifically a game plan.

“I didn’t bring it up,” head coach Steve Konowalchuk said about the hitting. “I think the guys wanted to win. When the hits are there (take them), but you have to be careful, you don’t want to run out of position.”

The T-Birds had been bad-luck losers in their previous two games against Everett. They gave up late game-winning goals after unfortunate bounces of the puck and again had to overcome some nervous moments in the third period Saturday.

While nursing a one-goal lead Everett pulled goalie Carter Hart for an extra skater. Rather than allowing another gut-wrenching score the T-Birds would add an empty-netter to leave no doubt. Barzal scored the empty-net goal after an unselfish play by Donovan Neuls.

Neuls had the puck and an easy tap-in goal. Instead, he swung the puck to a charging Barzal who notched his 21st of the season.

“I was calling for it,” Barzal said with a smile. “I would have done the same for him so it was nice of him to do that.”

For Bow, it was his second game back in net after missing seven games with a lower-body muscle pull. He was sharp on Saturday night, confidently stopping every shot he saw.

“That’s what you love,” Bow said about the close game. “This is playoff hockey and it’s going to be like that when we play in the playoffs. It’s going to be a grind-it-out to the last minute.”

Seattle did a much better job Saturday in managing the puck and navigating through the neutral zone and the Everett defenders.

While the T-Birds didn’t score a ton of goals, they did spend more time pushing the play, and other than a five-minute stretch in the second period were not stuck in their own end.

“We were playing a little bit too cautious,” Konowalchuk said of the second period. “But I was happy with the third period. I thought we were going out there again and start to put pressure on them.”

Barzal got the T-Birds on the board in the first period on his 20th marker of the year. He cut across the Everett zone, waited out a defenseman who had gone to the ice and flung a wrist shot past Carter Hart.

“I was going to shoot because there was a back-checker coming pretty hard,” Barzal said of the goal. “Then he dove down so I had to react and pull it around him.”

Everett managed to control the early play in the second period and hemmed the T-Birds into their own zone. The period broke down into a special-teams affair as the clubs combined for five power-play chances.

Seattle’s penalty kill was strong once again and came up big in the third period when it was short-handed for four minutes. Scott Eansor was called for high-sticking and then protested the call too much, which cost him an extra couple of minutes.

It was a big chance for Everett to score and take the lead, but t>he league’s top penalty kill pressured the Silvertips while clogging shot lanes. When Everett did manage to get a shot, Bow was there.

“Huge kills,” Konowalchuk said of his penalty kill. “We needed them there. On the flip side, that’s what teammates do. They bail each other out.”

The win moved Seattle to within three points of the Silvertips for first place in the U.S. Division. Both teams will move on to play a third game in as many nights on Sunday.

“Right now you’ve got to win every game,” Bow said. “The way our division is going right now, it’s such a tight race that we’re going to have to win if we want a good playoff spot.”

Notes

• Seattle played without defenseman Ethan Bear and forward Keegan Kolesar. Both were injured Friday night at Tri City and Konowalchuk did not know how much longer they would be out.

• Barzal’s two goals and a Ryan Gropp assist extended both of their point streaks to nine games.

• Bow has been solid in the past two games and says he’s healthy and 100 percent. “I feel great,” he said after the game. “It’s been a good couple of weeks off, resting and making sure I’m 100 percent before coming out.”

• With three games in as many days this weekend, Konowalchuk said Logan Flodell will start Sunday in Kamloops.

• Everett’s Carter Hart left the game briefly in the second period after being hit in the shoulder by a Gropp wrist shot. He was replaced by Mario Petit, who didn’t have to make a save in the nine minutes he played before Hart returned.

Follow Andy Eide on Twitter @andyeide.

Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds GM Bil La Forge has some moves to make this offseason. (Brian Liesse/T-Birds photo)...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds GM Bil La Forge dishes on the upcoming offseason

Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge will make some moves this summer to improve his club. Will they be big ones?
2 years ago
Seattle’s Keltie Jeri-Leon celebrates his final WHL goal Sunday against Spokane. (Brian Liess...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds end strange and hard season on a high note with dominating win over Spokane

The Seattle Thunderbirds dealt with a lot of adversity this season but end on a high note.
2 years ago
Keltie Jeri-Leon plays his final WHL game for the Thunderbirds Sunday night. (Brian Liesse)...
Andy Eide

Keltie Jeri-Leon set to play his final WHL game as Thunderbirds face Spokane Sunday

After five seasons, Seattle's lone over-aged player, Keltie Jeri-Leon will play his final junior game Sunday night.
2 years ago
Seattle rookie Scott Ratzlaff won his first WHL game in his first start. (Judy Simpson/TC Americans...
Andy Eide

Scott Ratzlaff earns first WHL win as Thunderbirds beat Tri-City

Behind a rookie goalie, the Thunderbirds kicked off the season's final weekend with a 5-2 win in Kennewick against the Tri-City Americans.
2 years ago
The Seattle Thunderbirds celebrate after snapping a six-game losing streak Sunday night. (Brian Lie...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds enjoy winning again after snapping six-game losing streak

The Seattle Thunderbirds have been scuffling but battled against a good Portland Winterhawks club to snap a six-game losing streak.
2 years ago
Thunderbirds forward Reid Schaefer fights for position Sunday in Portland. (Megan Connelly/Winterha...
Andy Eide

Dealing with adversity, young Thunderbirds drop pair of games in Portland

Injuries and penalties have thrown a ton of adversity at the young Thunderbirds which showed up in a pair of losses at Portland this weekend.
2 years ago
Landon Bow, Mathew Barzal lead T-Birds past Everett 2-0