Seattle's suffocating defense nearly squeezed two points out of the Tri-City Americans.
For 55 minutes Wednesday night, the Americans and Thunderbirds played to a scoreless tie. It took a video replay to award Seattle a goal and a power play for the Americans to tie the game.
In overtime, Brooks Macek scored with 43 seconds remaining to lift the Americans to a 2-1 victory over the Thunderbirds before a crowd of 3,233 at Toyota Center.
"Give Seattle credit, they played their game plan to a T -- they played us tight defensively," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, who moved to seventh on the team's all-time coaching wins list with 32. "Also understand, our guys were as ineffective as they have been all year. Give Ows (Drew Owsley) credit, he made the saves that were necessary."
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Tri-City (32-11-0-1, 65 points) remained atop the U.S. Division and Western Conference, while Seattle (14-23-3-4, 35 points) moved within five points of Kelowna in the race for a playoff spot. The Thunderbirds have not won at Toyota Center since Jan. 27, 2008, a span of 10 games.
"We are pleased with how we played," said Seattle coach Rob Sumner. "We just wanted to play well in areas critical to our game and play well in our end. We did a lot of things well. We need all the points we can get, and one is better than none."
Seattle's Chance Lund was awarded a goal at 15:21 of the third period after video replay showed the puck crossed the goal line before the Americans swept it out of the crease.
"I was tangled up with (Jarrett) Toll and I was a bit in the net," said Owsley, who finished with 24 saves for his league-leading 28th win of the season. "I'm not sure it was in -- I'm sure they had a better view (on the replay). It was a sloppy game and not a lot of quality chances. It's one of those games where you have to stay focused and be ready."
Tri-City's Brendan Shinnimin scored on the power play with 1:33 left in regulation to tie the game, picking up a rebound in the slot and lifting it over Thunderbirds goalie Calvin Pickard, who was down in the crease after making a stop on a shot by Adam Hughesman.
"I thought we killed well until then," Sumner said. "Those are the breaks. We didn't let our guard down, but they found a way."
In overtime, Macek brought the puck in front of the net and it looked as if it may have gone off a Seattle player before it rolled past Pickard.
"Just a lucky bounce, I guess," said Macek of his 14th goal. "This was a good wake-up call. We got the win, but we want to improve our game. We play again Friday and they will be out to get us."
In the first period there were just 12 stoppages of play and just as many missed opportunities by the Americans, who were off the mark with passes and chances around the net.
The Americans had two power plays in the first period and two in the second, but Seattle's penalty kill kept Tri-City's shots at a minimum and Pickard, who finished with 30 saves, turned away anything that came near the net.