KENNEWICK – There is desperate and then there is desperate.
The Spokane Chiefs proved that Tuesday night and the Tri-City Americans reinforced it on Thursday.
Now the two Western Hockey League rivals square off tonight in the Toyota Center in Game 5 of their best-of-7 playoff series and it’s a pretty good bet the team that plays with the greater sense of urgency will gain control in this back-and-forth series.
“I think we have to learn from the way we played last game,” Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said. “They played the game really desperate in a lot of areas and we really didn’t match them in some areas.”
The Chiefs took a 2-0 lead early in the second period before giving up three straight goals. Spokane got a late goal to force overtime, but the Americans won it early in the second extra session.
“I thought we played desperate in Game 3,” Nachbaur said. “That was our best game.”
That was a 4-1 win in Kennewick on Tuesday, when Spokane regained the home-ice advantage after the Americans won the opener in Spokane last weekend.
After losing at home, Americans coach Jim Hiller said, “It’s time for us to be extremely desperate.”
The Chiefs also rebounded to win Game 2 at home, 6-3, again, with a bit of desperation.
“We didn’t do that Thursday,” Nachbaur said. “We had a lot of guys play really well, but we had too many guys that didn’t bring their ‘A’ game. I’m talking about laying it on the line every shift.”
Nachbaur said that’s how the Chiefs, expecting to be in a rebuilding mode, scored more than 100 points this season, finishing 10 ahead of the Americans. But any time the Chiefs have had a letdown they have responded, and Nachbaur doesn’t expect anything different in their third straight game at Kennewick before they return to Spokane for Game 6 on Tuesday.
“We’ve done that all year long,” he said. “I truly believe it all comes down this time of year to your will to move on and your breaks. You have to create those chances.
“The level of play is raised dramatically because of the stakes. We missed the calling on how important the game was and how important every game is from here on. We had a chance to take a 3-1 lead. We had a break to tie the game, but had let off in the second period.”
Game 7, if necessary, would be Wednesday at the Arena.
|Tri-City 3, Spokane 1|
|Spokane 6, Tri-City 3|
|Spokane 4, Tri-City 1|
|Spokane at T-C, 7:30|
|T-C at Spokane, 7|