The Spokane Chiefs came up a little short this weekend, about 35 shots short.
Not that they’re complaining.
Despite not getting the shots on goal to which they’ve become accustomed, the Chiefs completed a 2-0 weekend with a 4-2 win over the Everett Silvertips before 6,635 fans at the Arena on Saturday night.
The result was fine, the method not so much. The reason was simple.
“I’d like to see 50 shots,” coach Don Nachbaur said. “I think we took our foot off the throttle this weekend. That’s midseason blues, every team goes through that.”
When Tyler Johnson iced the game on an empty-net goal – his 30th goal of the season – with 2.9 seconds left that was just the 33rd shot for the Chiefs (24-10-3-2, 53 points), who remained two points behind Portland atop the U.S. Division. They only had 32 shots in a 6-0 win over Lethbridge on Friday.
“I’m not going to knock a win. I’d take 50 ugly wins,” Nachbaur said. “We’ve got to keep in mind, that’s not our entire lineup. We were missing two of our top defensemen. We played some young kids. We still want to get more production out of some of those forwards. I think some of them have flat-lined. But I’m happy.”
Although the top scorers came through, the winner was provided by Brady Brassart midway through the third period after Everett (17-19-2-3, 39 points) rallied from a 2-0 deficit. Dominik Uher forced a turnover deep in the Silvertips’ end, won the puck and found Brassart at the right circle.
“I got it on net, far-side post,” Brassart said after his fifth goal. “Yeah, that’s where I was aiming.”
A sweet pass from Johnson to Levko Koper broke the ice early in the second period with Koper netting his 19th of the season, a short-handed marker. Then it was Johnson from the bottom of the left circle on the power play midway through the second period. Defenseman Brenden Kichton assisted on both.
The Silvertips got on the board in the opening seconds of the third period when Landon Ferraro got his stick on a high puck, deflecting it over goalie James Reid’s shoulder. Then Brennan Yadlowski’s slap shot from the top of the right circle on a power play tied it.
“The nice thing is we’re still clicking,” Nachbaur said. “The game’s on the line 2-2 and I thought we increased the tempo. We got some great shifts from Matt Marantz, Brassart and (Anthony) Bardaro. That swung the momentum for us. The goal was a big play and they had a chance for a fourth.”
Once again Nachbaur changed up the lines but part of that was to offset the second-period loss of Kenton Miller.
“We weren’t playing as a team,” Brassart said. “We switched the lines up a little bit. Me, Matty and Bard got going, obviously a little spark. We all got a little excited. We started flowing, found each other and made some plays. That’s when the game starts becoming fun.”
The Chiefs won their sixth straight and are 8-1-1-0 without captain Jared Cowen on the blue line, with three shutouts and five games of just two goals allowed. Cowen returns for road games at Portland and Kootenay next week and the outdoor game versus Kootenay at Avista Stadium on Saturday.
“We’ve got to stay simple back there,” Kichton said. “Guys really stepped up. We’re more consistent right now. With Cow it’s only going to help because he’s a force. He’s going to stabilize our team.”
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