All good things come to an end, and so do bad things.
That was the case at the Arena Wednesday night when the Spokane Chiefs ended Everett’s 14-game winning streak with a solid 2-1 win.
“The streak didn’t mean anything for me,” Silvertips coach Craig Hartsburg said. “We take one game at a time and tonight’s game was obviously our worst game in a long time. We weren’t sharp, we didn’t skate, didn’t work. We’ve had some success because we worked and tonight we didn’t work at all.”
It was only the second win at home in eight games for the Chiefs (30-19-3-1, 64 points), dating to the second week of December. Their hard work was rewarded on the winning power-play goal midway through the third period.
Everett goalie Kent Simpson deflected Kyle Beach’s shot off a Tyler Johnson pass behind the net and Beach followed it, trying to put the puck out front but knocking it off Simpson’s back into the goal.
“You have to get those greasy goals once in a while to be a winning team,” said Johnson, who scored the first goal 7 minutes in, a tap-in off a 2-on-1 with Levko Koper. “If you get the puck around the net, they’re bound to go in once in a while.
“We got a lucky break there. The hockey gods were watching for us. About time. If you work hard, you’re going to get those chances and that’s what we did.”
Chiefs coach Hardy Sauter agreed the goal was lucky, but the result of hard work.
“There’s no doubt,” he said. “The three years I’ve been here we work for every break we get. We know that. When we’re working, everybody’s committed to playing the game right, we get bounces. If we have any number of guys … cheating or not playing exactly right, we don’t get the results.”
The Chiefs controlled the play from the start, although they only got out of the first period with a 1-1 tie and both teams had 10 shots.
The Silvertips (33-17-2-1, 69 points) tied it at 12:50 when Kellan Tochkin, at point-blank range, flipped a quick shot top shelf over James Reid after Scott MacDonald stole the puck in the corner.
Still, it was a better start than the Chiefs had been getting.
“We had a good long talk with our team on Monday,” Johnson said. “We tried to figure some things out. I thought it motivated a bunch of guys, helped a lot. I’m going to credit that to that. Other than that, we played our game. It’s a good start.”
Spokane dominated the second period, out-shooting the Silvertips 14-4. The Chiefs had several good opportunities, which was similar to the first period, but couldn’t get a shot past Simpson, the league leader with a 2.39 goals against average.
“Just keep working, don’t panic,” Sauter said of the message between periods. “We felt we had a pretty good second period and continue to play within the system, defense first. We were still getting our chances, so there was no reason to press the envelope.”
The Chiefs ended up with a 33-20 shots advantage and limited Everett’s scoring opportunities.
“Our job is to play defense first and we showed today we can,” Spokane defenseman Stefan Ulmer said. “Reid played unreal today and we have six D’s who are top of this league and we shut them down defensively.”