Americans Clip Thunderbirds, 4-1Posted: Updated:
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- To quote longtime Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, all the Tri-City Americans had to do on Wednesday was ‘just win, baby!' And, back inside the friendly confines of the Toyota Center, the Tri-City Americans did just that and continued their march towards a third consecutive division crown.
Jordan Messier scored twice, Alexander Pechurskiy picked up 26 saves and the Tri-City Americans (46-21-1-2, 95 pts) skated past the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds (18-39-7-5, 48 pts) 4-1 in front of a sold out crowd of 6,025 fans. With the win, the Americans wrap-up the 10-game season series with Seattle, winning 7 games to 3. The win also snapped Tri-City's season-long three-game losing skid. Meanwhile, Seattle's losing streak in the Toyota Center grew to 12 games as they have now dropped five of their last six.
With both the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs idle tonight and with Everett's 3-0 loss to Portland on Tuesday, the Americans were in a position to take control of their own destiny. But, despite a big weekend series with the Chiefs looming, the Americans had to focus on the pesky T'birds. Seattle, despite allowing 19 shots on goaltender Calvin Pickard in the first period, dodged a couple of bullets in the opening 20 minutes and skated to a scoreless tie headed into the first break.
But, their fortunes turned in the second period, as Messier tallied two goals on Tri-City's first two shots in the period. Just 1:05 into the period, Brett Plouffe found Messier directly in front of Pickard. From the top of the crease, Messier redirected Plouffe's pass between the pads of Pickard to give Tri-City the 1-0 lead. Then, nearly three minutes later, Jarrett Toll's shot took an awkward bounce off the kickboards behind Pickard. Parked back door, Messier had the puck head right towards him and then, with Pickard caught off guard, was able to bang in the rebound.
While on the power play, Seattle answered with 1:42 remaining in the period. After two Seattle shots rang off the goalposts earlier in the man-advantage, Brenden Dillon fired a shot from the left circle that glanced off the glove of Pechurskiy, then off the crossbar and finally landed in front of Tyler Alos. Also was able to put back the rebound and cut the T'birds' deficit down to one.
Later in the third period, however, Seattle took two costly penalties. At the 6:42 mark of the period and just 15 seconds into the man-advantage, Johnny Lazo brought the puck around the net and then passed it off to Justin Feser. From the slot, Feser slipped the puck past Pickard, putting the Americans up 3-1. Then, with 6:49 remaining in regulation, Dillon was called for his second boarding penalty in a seven-minute span. One minute into the power play, Kruise Reddick let a drive go from the high slot, putting Tri-City up by three and capping the scoring in the contest.
Pickard finished the night with 42 saves on 46 shots faced in the loss. It marked the sixth time in nine games this season that Pickard faced 40+ shots vs. the Americans. Meanwhile, Pechurskiy stopped 26 of the 27 shots he saw to snap his personal three-game losing skid. Tri-City finished the night 2-for-4 on the power play, while Seattle was 1-for-2 on the man-advantage.
Now, the Americans can turn their attention to a home-and-home series with their arch rivals, the Spokane Chiefs, to wrap-up the season. Tri-City will play their last road game of their regular season on Friday, March 12 inside Veterans Memorial Arena. Game time is 7:00 p.m. The Chiefs lead the 12-game season series 7-3 and have currently won the last five vs. Tri-City. It is the longest winning streak the Chiefs have had over the Americans since a five-game streak during the 1997-98 season. Meanwhile, the Americans are looking to snap their season-long three-game road losing skid and pick-up their 20th win away from home for the third time in the last four seasons. But, Tri-City is 0-2-1-0 in their last three trips to the Arena in Spokane, two of which have been one-goal games.