The Tri-City Americans have enjoyed a lot of success on home ice this season, but Friday night was not one of those nights.
The B.C. Division-leading Prince George Cougars got two goals from Jesse Gabrielle and 29 saves from Ty Edmonds in a 6-1 victory over the Americans before a crowd of 4,035 at Toyota Center.
“In the first, we were fine,” Tri-City coach Mike Williamson said. “We competed hard in the third. In the second, we lost battles for pucks and didn’t do enough to generate shots. We hung our goalies out to dry and we didn’t have enough traffic in front of their goalie.”
The Americans (38-26-3-0, 79 points), who had won seven games in a row, now find themselves on a three-game slide as playoff positioning in the Western Conference takes on a different look every day. Tri-City hosts Everett on Saturday.
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Prince George (43-21-3-2, 91 points), which has a two-point lead over Kelowna in the race for the B.C. Division title, matched a franchise mark for wins. The Cougars are at Spokane on Saturday.
After a 2-1 first period, the Cougars jacked up the scoring in the second with three unanswered goals for a commanding 5-1 lead.
Gabrielle scored his second of the night just 2:01 into the period, and Sam Ruopp and Radovan Bondra added goals as the Cougars pulled away.
“We came out strong and got under their skin,” said Gabrielle, who leads the Cougars with 33 goals. “I don’t think we have had a problem with them all season. It was nice to come in here and get a win”
Ruopp’s goal at 6:32 of the second ended Tri-City starter Rylan Parenteau’s night. He finished with 19 saves.
Evan Sarthou came on in relief and gave up one goal on 14 shots in the second. He finished with the night with 23 saves.
In the third, Jansen Harkins scored the only goal as the Cougars wrapped up a perfect four-game series against the Americans.
“It’s going to take a solid effort throughout our lineup to win games,” Williamson said. “We need to make sure we are playing 60 minutes.”
In a fast and physical first period, the Cougars jumped out to a 2-1 lead.
Gabrielle opened the scoring at 4:06 on the power play, shooting from the left circle and putting the puck over Parenteau’s right shoulder.
The Americans came back 2 1/2 minutes later with a goal by Kyle Olson to even the score, but that would be short-lived.
Jared Bethune knocked the puck away from a Tri-City player at the Prince George blue line, pushed the puck up ice and beat Parenteau for a 2-1 game.
The Cougars looked to add another goal before the end of the period as Harkins gathered a loose puck and went in alone on Parenteau. The Tri-City goalie robbed Harkins with a glove save to keep it a one-goal game.
Cougars 6, Americans 1
First — 1, PG, Gabrielle 32 (Bondra, Guhle), 4:06 (pp). 2, TC, Olson 19 (Focht, Välimäki), 6:28. 3, PG, Bethune 21, 6:39. Penalties — Geekie, TC (tripping), 3:17; Bethune, PG (roughing), 6:39; Yaremko, TC (roughing), 6:39; Anderson, PG (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:40; Yaremko, TC (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:40.
Second — 4, PG, Gabrielle 33 (O’Brien), 2:01 (pp). 5, PG, Ruopp 4 (Wishnowski, Curtis), 6:32. 6, PG, Bondra 32 (McDonald), 9:43. Penalties — Yaremko, TC (slashing), :23; Bethune, PG (hooking), 13:00; McAuley, PG (roughing), 14:07; AuCoin, TC (cross-checking), 14:21.
Third — 7, PG, Harkins 21 (McAuley, Olson), 14:42 (pp). Penalties — Fuller, TC (kneeing), 13:06s.
Shots — PG 16-21-11 — 48. TC 9-10-11 — 30. Power plays — PG 3-3. TC 0-1. Goalies — PG, Edmonds 29-16-2-2 (30 shots-29 saves). TC, Parenteau 24-13-1-0 (23-19), Sarthou (6:32 of 2nd, 25-23). Referees — Derek Zalaski and Dexter Rasmussen. A — 4,035.