Tri-City rally falls short in 4-3 loss to SeattlePosted: Updated:
KENT, WA - With three games left in the regular season, the Tri-City Americans have officially switched from being the hunted to the hunters.
Backed by two goals from Burke Gallimore and 39 saves from Calvin Pickard, the Seattle Thunderbirds (18-38-7-5, 48 pts) held off the visiting Tri-City Americans (45-21-1-2, 93 pts) 4-3 in front of 3,215 fans at ShoWare Center. With the win, Seattle snapped their four-game losing skid to the Americans and their four-game overall losing streak. Meanwhile, Tri-City's slide continued as they dropped their third straight contest, matching their longest winless drought of the season. The loss also dropped the Americans out of first place in the division for the first time since Oct. 30, a span of 18 straight weeks.
In the first 1:36 of the game, two early penalties got the Americans off to a bad start. While playing 5-on-3, Gallimore tipped in a Prab Rai shot past Alexander Pechurskiy to put Seattle up 1-0. Three minutes later, the lead grew to 2-0 after Brock Sutherland turned the puck over to Tyler Alos. Alos then fired a shot off the crossbar and across the goal line for his 6th goal of the season.
Quickly down by two less than five minutes into the game, Tri-City coach Jim Hiller called timeout in hopes of rallying his troops. And rally them he did, as less than two minutes later and on the power play, the Americans got on the scoreboard. Parked in front of Pickard, Neal Prokop deflected a Brett Plouffe shot straight down and behind the netminder, pulling the Americans to within one.
Still down one at the 12:44 mark of the second period, Tri-City caught a bad break while killing off a Prokop penalty for goaltender interference. Just six seconds into the power play, Gallimore dumped the puck into the Tri-City zone. At the same time, Justin Feser went to knock the puck down by reaching his stick up into the air. But, in the process, the puck struck Feser's blade and bounced behind Pechurskiy for a goal. Gallimore was credited with his second tally of the night and Seattle took a 3-1 lead.
Down by two again and trying to pressure the T'birds, Tri-City was caught cheating too much into the offensive zone late in the period. With 2:30 remaining in the period, Robbie Ciolfi caught the Americans with all five skaters cheating up and was able to break out Charles Wells. Looking like a penalty shot, Wells broke in Pechurskiy, then made a nice sweeping move to beat the goaltender between his pads, lifting Seattle to a 4-1 lead.
But, the Americans continued to fight in the third period, as they continued to claw their way back into the contest. At the 6:15 mark of the period, Johnny Lazo redirected a Brendan Shinnimin shot past Pickard, pulling the Americans to within two. Then, while on the power play 2:40 later, Tri-City made it a one-goal game when Lazo found Feser camped backdoor on Pickard. Feser notched his 33rd goal of the season and Tri-City now had over half the period to try and tie the game.
Immediately after Feser's goal and sensing the game starting to slip away, Seattle coach Rob Sumner used his only timeout to try and refocus his squad. Unfortunately for Tri-City, the T'birds were able to hunker down defensively for the remainder of the contest. The Americans got a golden opportunity late in the contest, as Ciolfi put Tri-City on the power play with 3:41 remaining in regulation. But, Tri-City could manage only near misses down the stretch.
Pickard finished the night with 39 saves, while Pechurskiy stopped 24 shots in the loss. Tri-City finished the night 2-for-5 on the power play, while Seattle went 2-for-6 on the man-advantage.
Meanwhile, in the race for the U.S. Division crown, both the Everett Silvertips and the Spokane Chiefs were idle tonight. However, both squads now hold a game-in-hand on Tri-City, which will be made up on Tuesday. However, despite being tied in points, Everett overtook Tri-City for the top spot in the division and Western Conference based on overall games played.