Rylan Parenteau has made himself at home in the Tri-City Americans’ crease.
Acquired in a trade last month from Prince Albert, Parenteau has earned his stars and stripes, picking up his fifth win in eight games Friday in a 5-3 victory over the Portland Winterhawks before a crowd of 3,909 at Toyota Center.
“As a goalie, you have to thrive in pressure situations,” said Parenteau, who finished the night with 31 saves. “You want to preserve the lead and be the backbone. The team played well coming out. We got four quick goals. It’s nice to protect the lead and not play catchup.”
The Americans (10-6-1-0, 21 points) sit second in the U.S. Division behind Everett (26 points), which was idle Friday. The Winterhawks (8-9-0-0, 16 points) lost their sixth game in a row. The teams meet again Sunday in Portland.
The Americans got off to a hot start Friday, scoring four goals on seven shots in the first period. But the lead dwindled to 4-3 and Tri-City would need a short-handed goal by Morgan Geekie with 10.3 seconds remaining in regulation to seal the win.
“When it was 4-1, we had good chances,” Tri-City coach Mike Williamson said. “When we didn’t score, it turned into transition chances for them. They got a couple of quick ones and made a game of it.”
Michael Rasmussen got the Americans on the board at 1:11 of the first, hounding Portland’s Caleb Jones before stealing the puck. Rasmussen got the puck to Tyler Sandhu, who in turn gave it back to Rasmussen in the slot for an easy goal.
Portland’s Ryan Hughes tied the score at 4:15, but it was all Tri-City from there.
Working on the Americans’ first power play, Juuso Välimäki put a shot on goal that Portland goalie Cole Kehler thought he had stopped. But the puck was behind him, and Geekie swooped in and knocked it in the net for his seventh goal of the season at 11:21.
“There was a shot from the point, and Razzy (Rasmussen) banged at it,” Geekie said. “It was behind him (Kehler) the whole time.”
Rasmussen scored his second of the night at 13:34, and Parker AuCoin finished the onslaught of goals at 16:25, stealing the puck from Skyler McKenzie and scoring shorthanded.
Kehler, who allowed three goals on five shots, exited the game after Rasmussen’s second goal and was charged with his fifth loss of the season. Michael Bullion came on in relief and stopped 26 of 27 shots.
The second period was all Portland, which got goals from Carter Czaikowski and Keegan Iverson to pull to within 4-3.
The Americans had 11 shots on goal — with a couple of near misses — but Bullion turned them all away to keep his team in the game.
Parenteau kept a tight lid on the goal in the third, denying all 12 of Portland’s shots. The biggest save came with 25.2 seconds left, when he stopped a shot by Joachim Blichfeld in the slot.
“He competes hard on every shot,” Williamson said. “He got some big saves for us.”
Americans 5, Winterhawks 3
First — 1, TC, Rasmussen 13 (Sandhu), 1:11. 2, Por, Hughes 5 (Gilliss, Jokiharju), 4:15. 3, TC, Geekie 7 (Välimäki, Rasmussen), 11:21 (pp). 4, TC, Rasmussen 14 (Välimäki, Lukin), 13:34. 5, TC, AuCoin 6, 16:25 (sh). Penalties — De Jong, Por (hooking), 10:44; O’Reilly, TC (tripping), 15:29; Iverson, Por (roughing), 19:28; Krebs, TC (roughing), 19:28.
Second — 6, Por, Czaikowski 1 (Glass, Blichfeld), 12:39. 7, Por, Iverson 7, 17:36. Penalties — Wotherspoon, TC (kneeing), 1:09; Overhardt, Por (cross-checking), 4:50.
Third — 8, TC, Geekie 8 (Coghlan), 19:49 (en). Penalties — Texeira, Por (tripping), 1:17; Lukin, TC (high-sticking), 2:29; Hughes, Por (holding), 9:12; De Jong, Por (hooking), 10:17; Leason, TC (tripping), 13:56; Yorke, TC (unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:49.
Shots — Por 11-11-12 — 34. TC 7-11-14 — 32. Power plays — Por 0-5. TC 1-7. Goalies — Por, Kehler 6-5-0-0 (5 shots-2 saves), Bullion (13:34 of 1st, 27-26). TC, Parenteau 6-3-1-0 (34-31). Referees — Kevin Bennett and Troy Patterson. A — 3,909.