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KENNEWICK, WA - Down the stretch, things are starting to tighten up in the U.S. Division.


Just 3:58 into the third period, Kellan Tochkin scored the eventual game-winner, lifting the visiting Everett Silvertips (38-19-3-1, 80 pts) past the Tri-City Americans (41-16-1-2, 85 pts) 3-2 in front of 5,461 fans at Toyota Center.  With the win, the ‘Tips improve to 3-0-1-0 in their last four games and pulled to within five points of the Americans in the race for the U.S Division crown.  Meanwhile, Tri-City has lost two straight to Everett and four of their last six games overall.


Looking to make a statement in front of the large, hometown crowd, Tri-City struggled to get shots on goal early on.  Then, nearing the midway point of the period, Tochkin got things going for the ‘Tips.  Patrolling the goal line to the left of Drew Owsley, Tochkin let a shot go that ricocheted off the arm of Owsley and into the net for the 1-0 lead.


Then, with less than three minutes remaining in the period and on the power play, Everett quieted the packed house even further.  With a loose puck heading his direction, defenseman Alex Theriau cheated in at the point and fired a shot on net.  Owsley, with traffic in front of him, was late in reading the shot and just missed getting a glove on Theriau's shot, instead making it a 2-0 Everett lead.


But, late in the second period, the potent Americans offense was finally heard from.  With 3:33 remaining in the second frame and during a scramble in front of Thomas Heemskerk, Brooks Macek lifted a backhander past the Everett goaltender, pulling Tri-City to within one.


Then, just 55 seconds into the third period, Neal Prokop really got the crowd back into it.  While bringing the puck out of the Everett zone, Radko Gudas turned the puck over to Justin Feser, who collected the loose puck and broke in on Heemskerk.  Feser's rebound ended up in the slot where Prokop fired it past Heemskerk, tying the game at 2-apiece.


Less than three minutes later, however, Tochkin beat Owsley for a second time, giving the ‘Tips all the offense they would need.  Tri-City, meanwhile, let off 16 shots in the final period and pulled Owsley for the extra attacker with 1:37 remaining in regulation.  But, in the end, they could not capitalize on the chances presented, eventually falling for just the seventh time at home this season.  Owsley finished the night with 24 saves in the loss.  Meanwhile, Heemskerk continued his hot play in the month of February, notching his 20th win of the season and lowering his monthly goals against average down to 1.38.  Tri-City finished the night 0-for-3 on the power play, while Everett was 1-for-3 on the man-advantage.