Vancouver Hands Americans Rare Home Loss - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Vancouver Hands Americans Rare Home Loss

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Kennewick, Wash. --  The winds of change were blowing in Tri-Cities on Saturday night. Not only did they bring in the first snow and ice of this winter season, but it also brought with it a rare home loss for the red-hot Americans.

Craig Cunningham netted two goals, including the game-winner, as the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Giants (26-2-0-3, 55 pts) took down the Tri-City Americans (22-8-0-2, 46 pts) 3-1, handing Tri-City just their second home loss of the season and first since October 31. The Giants, who have lost just five games all season, improved to 9-1 in their last 10 games and take a 2-1 lead in the four-game series with the Americans. Meanwhile, with the loss, Tri-City saw their season-high eight-game winning streak come to an end. It was also their first loss at home to the Giants since November 24, 2006.

The poor weather began to fall right around game time and, soon after, the Giants took control.

Just 27 seconds into the contest and on the first shot of the game, Craig Schira let a slap shot that beat rookie goaltender Drew Owsley, top shelf, for the early 1-0 lead. Owsley, who appeared to be screened by a Giants' defender on the play, was making just his fifth start of the season. Thirteen minutes later, the Giants extended their lead to two after Cunningham's first goal of the night, taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

However, Owsley and the Americans regrouped in the second period and out shot the Giants 13 to 7 over the next 20 minutes of play. After failing to convert on several near-misses, the Americans finally broke through with 2:17 remaining in the period. Just six seconds into their fourth power play chance, Brett Plouffe let a blast go from the point, beating Giants netminder Jamie Tucker, for his seventh tally of the season. Lane Werbowski and Kruise Reddick assisted on the play.

Unfortunately for Americans fans, it was as close as Tri-City was going to get.

With 38 seconds remaining in regulation, Cunningham's second goal of the night capped the scoring in the contest. Owsley, who got stronger as the night went on, finished with 24 saves on 26 shots in his first loss of the season. Meanwhile, Tucker collected 28 of the 29 shots he saw in route to the victory. The Americans finished 1-for-5 on the man-advantage and went a perfect 1-for-1 on the penalty kill.

The Americans will look to come out strong in their final game before the break, as the Central Division's Medicine Hat Tigers make their lone Toyota Center appearance tomorrow, Sunday, December 14. Game time is 5:05 p.m. The Americans snapped a four-game winless streak against the Tigers last season, picking up a 5-4 overtime win in Medicine Hat on January 18. Tri-City, who is 12-14-2-0 with 4 ties all-time against Medicine Hat, will look to win back-to-back games against the Tigers for the first time since 1997. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Toyota Center box office, all Fred Meyer outlets, or online at Those unable to make it to the game can catch all the action live on NewsTalk 870 AM, starting with the Sterling Savings Bank Warm-up Show at 4:45 p.m.