Ashton and Shinnimin Guide Ams to VictoryPosted: Updated:
KENNEWICK, WA – In a battle of top Tampa Bay Lightning prospects, Carter Ashton outdueled Brett Connolly.
Ashton and Brendan Shinnimin each scored twice, as each surpassed the 30-goal plateau to help guide the Tri-City Americans (41-23-2-2, 86 pts) past the visiting Prince George Cougars (31-35-2-2, 66 pts) 6-3 in front of 4,712 fans at the Toyota Center. With the win, the Americans avoided losing their first season series to the Cougars since the 2002-03 season all while clinching a fifth straight season of 25+ home wins. Meanwhile, the Cougars, who have lost five of their last seven, still control their playoff destiny with two games remaining in their schedule.
The Americans, who controlled most of the first period play, got on the board after penalties forced both teams to play shorthanded. With 6:35 left in the period, and with a 4-on-3 Tri-City advantage, Ashton shelved a wrist shot over the shoulder of Ty Rimmer, giving Tri-City a 1-0 lead.
But, with 20.1 seconds left in the period, Troy Bourke collected his 19th goal of the season, knotting the game at 1 headed into the break.
It wouldn't take long, though, for Tri-City to retake the lead for good. Just 15 seconds into the second period, the game was delayed several minutes while the Toyota Center maintenance crew replaced a broken pane of glass behind the Tri-City net. Once play resumed, it took Shinnimin just nine seconds to get up the ice and connect on a shot from the high slot. Then, only 1:33 later, David Conrad broke out Kruise Reddick as part of a 2-on-1 with Ashton. Reddick fed Ashton in the slot, who made a great move to get Rimmer out of position, and then buried a backhander to make it a 3-1 game.
The Cougars, though, would not go away, as they continued to find ways to claw back into the contest. At the 3:36 mark of the second, Connolly took advantage of an errant Tri-City pass and scored a beauty just inside the near post on Drew Owsley, pulling Prince George to within one.
Later in the period, Justin Feser and Jaroslav Vlach exchanged goals just three minutes apart, as the Americans maintained their one-goal lead into the second intermission.
But, in the third, Tri-City scored two unanswered goals, extending their lead to 6-3. Just 2:40 into the period, Patrick Holland let a blast go from the right circle, finding space between Rimmer and the post for his 21st marker of the year. Then, with 10:05 left to play in regulation, and on the power play, Shinnimin forced a turnover and took off with Holland. After a give-and-go play, Shinnimin stuffed the puck between Rimmer's pads, netting his 32nd goal of the season while capping the scoring in the contest.
After totaling 26 saves on 29 shots, Owsley picked up his career-best 34th win of the season and improved to 4-2 since returning to the line-up following a knee injury. Meanwhile, Rimmer stopped 27 of the 33 shots he faced in the loss, snapping his two-game winning streak. Tri-City finished the night 2-for-4 on the power play and was a perfect 6-of-6 on the penalty kill.