Everett coach Dennis Williams was not happy with Patrick Bajkov's play the first two games of the Western Conference finals against the Tri-City Americans. He told him as much Monday morning.
The overage forward took the words to heart, then went out Monday night and scored three goals to help the Silvertips to an 8-4 victory over the Americans in Game 3, and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series at Toyota Center.
"I talked to Patty this morning," Williams said. "I really challenged him. It wasn't just the goals he scored, he competed, finished his checks, tracked pucks and did the little things, which the rest of the team follows and watches. My hat goes off to him for responding."
Game 4 will be Thursday at Toyota Center. The series shifts back to Everett on Saturday for Game 5.
The Americans twice rallied to tie the score, the second time at 4-4 in the third, but couldn't keep the momentum going.
"I thought we showed a lot of character coming back to tie it up twice in the game, but you just can't keep giving the team a lead and trying to use your energy chasing the game," Tri-City coach Mike Williamson said. "We gave some good players some good looks and turned the puck over a few too many times, and that led to some offense. We have to put it behind us and make sure we are ready to go Thursday."
The Americans, who lost for the first time on home ice during the playoffs, trailed 4-2 entering the third period, but that quickly changed.
Isaac Johnson scored 47 seconds into the period, collecting a rebound off a Nolan Yaremko shot and putting the puck into an open net beside Everett goalie Carter Hart.
Less than one minute later, Michael Rasmussen scored his second of the night, getting an assist from the dasher boards behind Hart.
Rasmussen brought the puck up ice and his shot was wide of the net. The puck bounced off the boards, hit Hart in the back and ricocheted into the net for a 4-4 game.
"It was definitely a whirlwind of events that happened there quickly," Williams said. "Credit to them coming out responding being down two and giving some pushback there. I was proud of the way we stuck to our gameplan, how we wanted to play. We were able to capitalize on a couple of turnovers and were able to secure the win."
Things got ugly for the Americans from there as the Silvertips scored four unanswered goals to finish the game.
A turnover led to a breakaway and the second goal of the game by Bajkov, who would score again 2 1/2 minutes later to complete his hat trick.
Connor Dewar added a goal at 10:47 as the Silvertips scored three unanswered goals in a span of 3:53. Garrett Pilon finished the onslaught at 11:44 for an 8-4 lead.
"Everything that happened, happened because we were trying to create some things and maybe trying to do too much," Williamson said. "We just have to know good things will happen if we stick together and play together. You get away from that, it's too good a team we are playing to give them those chances. They had three or four breakaways where we didn't give our goalie a chance."
Rasmussen scored his first goal late in the first period, and Juuso Välimäki scored a power-play goal at 1:42 of the second to tie the score at 2-2.
It would be a turnover by Välimäki that led Reece Vitelli's goal and a 3-2 Everett lead.
"We've all got to be better on that, including myself," Välimäki said of puck management. "We can't give any easy offense. We know we can't finish a game like that and lose that much effort like we did. We have to try to have a short memory and forget this quick."
After playing three games in four nights, the teams will get a bit of a break Tuesday and Wednesday before lacing up their skates for Game 4.
"Our guys care a lot," Williamson said. "They are frustrated and pissed off right now, but there is nothing you can really do. Whether you give up eight or lose 1-0 in triple overtime, it's one game in the series. We are playing a good hockey team. The only way to have success is to be at the top of your game. We had some lapses that hurt us. We just have to take a deep breath. We are still in a good situation."
Silvertips 8, Americans 4
First — 1, Evt, Fasko-Rudas 4 (Vitelli), 2:36. 2, Evt, Bajkov 9, 10:21. 3, TC, Rasmussen 13 (Välimäki, Coghlan), 15:55 (pp). Penalties — Sharp, Evt (roughing), 14:41; Johnson, TC (roughing), 14:41; Sutter, Evt (checking from behind), 15:35.
Second — 4, TC, Välimäki 2 (Rasmussen), 1:42 (pp). 5, Evt, Vitelli 3 (Richards), 3:55. 6, Evt, Walker 1 (Pilon), 13:02. Penalties — Richards, Evt (holding), :52.
Third — 7, TC, Johnson 5 (Yaremko, Topping), :47. 8, TC, Rasmussen 14 (Geekie), 1:45. 9, Evt, Bajkov 10, 6:54. 10, Evt, Bajkov 11 (Richards, Fonteyne), 9:21. 11, Evt, Dewar 6 (Pilon), 10:47. 12, Evt, Pilon 10 (Sutter), 11:44. Penalties — James, TC (kneeing), 13:01; Fasko-Rudas, Evt (misconduct), 19:57; AuCoin, TC (roughing), 19:57; Bouchard, TC (misconduct), 19:57; James, TC (misconduct), 19:57; O'Rourke, Evt (roughing), 20:00.
Shots — Evt 7-10-22 — 28. TC 9-13-11 — 33. Power plays — Evt 0-2. TC 2-2. Goalies — Evt, Hart 10-2-1 (33 shots- 29 saves). TC, Dea 8-2-0 (26-18), Warm (11:44 of 3rd, 2-2). Referees — Kyle Kowalski and Fraser Lawrence. A — 3,268.
Annie Fowler: 582-1574; @tchicequeen