FRIDAY WHL RECAP/Silvertips blank Portland 4-0 at home to claim best-of-7 series 4-1

The Everett Silvertips played perhaps their strongest game of the series on Friday and eliminated the Portland Winterhawks from the Western Hockey League playoffs with a 4-0 win at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett.

It was the second shutout win of the series for the Silvertips, who won four in a row to take the series 4-1.

Everett will meet the Tri-City Americans in the Western Conference finals.

Coming off a stunning come-from-behind win on Thursday at Portland, the Silvertips played with energy throughout Friday's game.

"I liked our start. It was a very physical, hard-battling first period. Sometimes in games like that, that first goal makes a big difference," Winterhawks VP/GM/coach Mike Johnston said. "They got some energy when they scored and then they had back to back power plays and I thought that gave them some more jump.

"It just seemed like we were on our heels. I didn't think we made many plays. Their energy with the crowd kind of took over the game."

Portland killed all four Everett power plays but had only one power-play chance of its own.

Everett asserted itself in a dominating second period, then finished the job with three goals in the third period.

The game was scoreless until a shot from the point by defenseman Jake Christiansen found its way through traffic 9:53 into the second period.

The Silvertips put away the game with three third-period goals. Riley Sutter made it 2-0 Tips 2:49 into the third period when he found a loose puck after a shot from the point hit traffic.

Everett's third goal came at 7:13 of the third after the Tips forced a turnover at neutral ice. Gianni Fairbrother won a puck battle in the corner and made a quick move to the crease and stuffed the puck past Cole Kehler.

The final Everett goal was an empty-netter for Christiansen, who shot the puck from inside his own blueline seconds after Kehler left for an extra skater.

Johnston noted that key Winterhawks played big minutes in Thursday's Game 4 loss.

"I didn't think we were very sharp," Johnston said. "We pushed our top guys hard last night. That was a very challenging game. They played high minutes and that caught up with us."

Portland's best scoring chance of the night was a break-away for Connor Barley. He made a move and tried to stuff the puck between the pads of Carter Hart, who made the save.

Hart finished with 30 saves and Dustin Wolf made four saves when Hart left the game for the final 10 minutes of the second period.

The Winterhawks have never won a Game 5 when trailing a playoff series 3-1.

After winning Game 1 by a score of 5-2, Portland scored only four more goals in the series.

Still, this series will be remembered for the dramatic turn of events at the end of Game 4 on Thursday in Portland. After a goal by Henri Jokiharju gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead with 2:07 left in that game, Everett scored twice in the next 55 seconds to carve out a 3-2 win.

That, Johnston noted, was the defining sequence in the series.

"It's hard. It's a hard loss. I liked our team," Johnston said. "I thought we could have gone far, but we had two tough opponents in the first two rounds, and that's what happens sometimes."

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