SEATTLE - When the game is on the line, you can't go wrong putting the puck on Colton Yellow Horn's stick.
Yellow Horn took a pass from Taylor Procyshen and beat Jacob DeSerres 45 seconds into overtime on the power play to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 3-2 victory over Seattle at KeyArena and a 3-1 lead over the Thunderbirds in the Western Conference semifinal series.
"Our power play has been good for us this series and gives us confidence," Yellow Horn said. "Now the series is 3-1, but it could be a whole different series heading back to the Tri-Cities."
The Americans have won three straight over the Thunderbirds after losing the opening game 7-1. Tri-Cities can close out the series Friday at Toyota Center. If need be, Game 6 would be Saturday at KeyArena.
"That was a good hockey game end to end with two teams that went to the well," said Tri-City coach Don Nachbaur. "There is no space out there; that fourth win is never easy to come by."
Although Tri-Cities needs just one win to advance, don't count out the Thunderbirds, who rallied from a 2-0 deficit against Kelowna to win their first-round series in seven games.
"We don't see ourselves trying to win the series, just the next game," said Seattle coach Rob Sumner.
Tied at 2 after two periods, the two teams combined for 28 shots in the third period, but both goaltenders held their ground.
"Their goalie stood on his head and you want to match that," said Americans goaltender Chet Pickard. "Jake made some unbelievable saves to keep them in there."
The Americans peppered DeSerres with 16 shots on goal in the third and had two power plays, but couldn't get the puck over the goal line.
With 6 minutes left in the game, Yellow Horn weaved his way through traffic down the ice, but was denied at the right post by DeSerres. Just 54 seconds later, Procyshen took the puck off a faceoff and curled around the crease, but DeSerres, playing just his second game of the postseason, made a huge pad save in the crease.
With the game winding down, Seattle's Benn Olson was called for holding, giving the Americans a power play with 22 seconds left in regulation. The power play extended into overtime, when Yellow Horn scored his sixth goal of the playoffs.
"The turning point was when T.J. (Fast) took on Olson
1-on-1 and drew the penalty with his speed and finesse," Nachbaur said.
Fast said he didn't even know there was a penalty coming until the whistle blew.
"I just got a good pass from Mac (Blair Macaulay), and I decided to get to the net," Fast said. "It was exciting. It gave us a chance, especially in overtime. It's not very often you get that."
Seattle scored on its first shot of the game when Ian McKenzie slipped the puck behind Chet Pickard at the right post at 8:31 of the first period for his WHL-leading eighth playoff goal.
The Thunderbirds held the lead until 17:04, when Procyshen found Shaun Vey camped out at the left post on the power play. Vey put the puck behind DeSerres for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Of the Americans' 11 goals in the series, nine have come on the man advantage.
And while Tri-Cities' power play has been hot, its third-ranked penalty kill has paid dividends as well.
Kruise Reddick gave the Americans a 2-1 lead at 9:41 of the second period, stealing the puck from Seattle's Sena Acolatse in the Thunderbirds' zone and moving in on DeSerres. DeSerres committed to the left, and Reddick, showing patience, pulled the puck around the crease and put it in an open corner on the left side of the net for his first playoff goal.
The Thunderbirds tied things up at 14:04 of the second when Greg Scott followed up on a shot by Brenden Dillon and beat Pickard for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
"We played pretty hard, but we made some mistakes against a good offensive team and paid for it in overtime," Scott said. "We just need to concentrate on the next game and not look too far ahead."