From staff reports
KENNEWICK – Jackson Smith scored two goals early in the third period and the Tri-City Americans held off the Spokane Chiefs 6-3 at Toyota Center on Saturday for their first home win since Dec. 9.
Tri City (18-27-2-1) pulled within a point of Spokane (18-24-4-0) for the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. The Americans outshot Spokane 47-32 and were awarded five power plays against just one for Spokane. Chiefs goalie Dawson Cowan made 41 saves.
Spokane was assessed back-to-back minor penalties in late in the first period, with Chase Bertholet’s slashing infraction tacked on with 21 seconds left in the original call. But Cowan was strong, and the best scoring chance came for the Chiefs, as Shea Van Olm’s wrister on a two-on-two was kicked aside by Tri-City goalie Kyle Kelsey.
The Americans outshot the Chiefs 20-9 in a scoreless first period.
Tri-City struck 26 seconds into the second period. Cowan misplayed a puck behind his net, and it went straight to Nick Anisimovicz, who dumped it into the empty net for his fifth goal of the season.
Just 26 seconds later, Cowan made a save on Alex Serraglio from close range, but the puck ricocheted to Jake Sloan, who poked a backhander under the sprawled Cowan for his 16th of the season and a 2-0 lead.
The teams were called for coincidental penalties at the 7:29 mark of the second, with Chiefs defenseman Brayden Crampton whistled for embellishment. Immediately after those calls expired, Chiefs defenseman Will McIsaac was sent to the box for boarding, giving Tri-City its third power-play opportunity to none for the visitors.
But Cowan was equal to the task again and kept the Americans from adding to their lead.
Later in the period, Shea Van Olm was called for interference. But Bertholet broke free into the Tri-City zone and was hauled down, prompting a penalty shot, and he buried it to make it 2-1.
It didn’t stay that way long. Just as Van Olm’s penalty expired, Anisimovicz banged home a rebound to put Tri-City up 3-1, which is how it stayed through the end of the period.
In the third period, the Chiefs jumped out quickly. Just 24 seconds in, Rasmus Ekstrom gathered along the left wing half wall and slid a cross-ice pass to McIsaac, pinching in from his point position. The Chiefs defender collected the pass and beat Kelsey for his fourth goal of the year to make it a one-goal game.
But again Tri-City answered, as Jackson Smith’s shot from the point made it through a screen and past Cowan to make it 4-2 not 3 minutes into the third. The Americans made it a three-goal game a few moments later on Smith’s second of the game and seventh of the season.
Owen Martin converted a rebound to finish a 2-on-1 for his second goal of the game to pull the Chiefs back within two. Spokane was awarded its first power-play opportunity with 8:15 to go but did not convert.
The Chiefs pulled Cowan with 1:22 to go, but Tri-City’s Parker Bell scored on a long empty-net goal with 50 seconds left to ice it.