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WHL playoffs: Silvertips edge Royals to take back upper hand

There was no power failure on Tuesday night. At least not for the Everett Silvertips.
Royals forward Ryan Peckford battles for a loose puck with Slivertips defenceman Kevin Davis during the first period of Game 3 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Tuesday night.

There was no power failure on Tuesday night.

At least not for the Everett Silvertips.

The WHL Western Conference regular-season champions and top seeds defeated the eighth-seed Victoria Royals 2-0 on two power-play goals to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven opening-round playoff series to silence the 4,790 fans at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

The Silvertips are six-for-14 in the series on the odd man.

“The difference at this time of year is special teams,” affirmed Royals coach Dave Lowry.

“Everett played a great road game and was patient.”

Patrick Bajkov, the forward out of Nanaimo who led Everett in regular-season goals and points, scored his third goal of the playoffs in the first minute of the second period. That was followed by another power-play goal in the second period by Eetu Tuulola, off an assist by Bajkov.

Victoria, meanwhile, which had been a scorching four-for-seven on the odd man in the first two games of the series, was held to 0-3 Tuesday as the smothering Silvertips finally showed why they led the WHL in regular-season penalty killing.

“They made [penalty-kill] adjustments. We’ll make [power-play] adjustments,” said Lowry.

Opening the scoring was crucial for Everett because it is very hard to rally against a clampdown outfit like the Silvertips, the best defensive team by far in the WHL this season. Everett is a team built to take a lead, however slim, and then grind down the clock. The up-tempo Royals cannot afford to let the deliberate Silvertips mechanize the pace of play, which Everett did Tuesday after scoring the first goal. With five minutes left in the second period, the ’Tips had allowed Victoria just seven shots on goal.

“They slow it down and play a tight game and keep everything to the outside. We need to get to the dirty areas,” said Victoria forward Regan Nagy.

Philadelphia Flyers second-round draft pick Carter Hart, a goaltender on the silver-medallist Canadian team at the 2017 world juniors, recorded a 25-save shutout.

Griffen Outhouse made 19 saves in goal for Victoria.

The Royals were compromised Tuesday with top-three forward Jack Walker and top-three defenceman Scott Walford both unable to dress because of injuries sustained in Saturday’s 4-3 victory in Everett.

Victoria especially missed Walker’s speed to pierce the Everett defensive shell.

“[The Silvertips] are a meticulous team,” said Victoria captain Ryan Gagnon.

“Special teams were a key factor. Discipline, and staying out of the box, is going to be huge for us.”

The fourth game is tonight at the Memorial Centre and the fifth game Friday at Xfinity Arena in Everett.

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