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  • 20 Apr 2014

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Winterhawks respond to challenge, down Everett 5-3

When the Everett Silvertips scored a pair of second period goals 40 seconds apart to steal away the lead, it looked like Portland was in trouble. That lasted for all of about one line change. The Winterhawks quickly responded and scored three unanswered goals to knock off Everett, 5-3 on Saturday.

Portland was unfazed by the sudden shift of momentum, and center Brendan Leipsic made a point to get it back. One minute after the Silvertips took a 3-2 advantage on a fluke deflection, Leipsic intercepted a pass to sniff out another potential scoring chance. He then passed the puck and cut down the ice undetected. Leipsic arrived at the Everett net, got the puck back as it clanked off a Silvertip skate and slung it into the net to tie the game.

“They got a couple squeaky goals there, so it was important for us to get it back,” Leipsic said. “I got a lucky bounce that popped right to me that I was able to put it in. That gave us some life back.”

Leipsic’s goal energized the team and left wing Paul Bittner wanted to get in on the action. Two minutes into the third period, Bittner cranked a shot in between the razor-thin space between the crossbar and the shoulder of Everett goaltender Austin Lotz. The force of the shot knocked Lotz’s Gatorade bottle into the air from its nest on top of the net, but more importantly, it sent the Rose Garden crowd into a frenzy.

For the rest of the night, the Silvertips were on their heels and didn’t make any real threat to even the score. Any hope Everett had was doused when Leipsic delivered a perfect pass to Bittner, who dutifully punched it in for his second goal of the period with about two minutes left to play.

“In the intermission, the coaches told us to stop being little girls. They said to win the board battles, and once we started doing it, that opened up the ice for us,” Bittner said.

The victory, while not perfect, was still a victory. It was Portland’s 10th straight win and the Winterhawks have now gone 29-2 in their last 31 games.

“We definitely weren’t at our sharpest,” Leipsic said. “It was good for us to come together and come through to pull it out, even though we weren’t at our best.”