KENNEWICK -- One ill-advised penalty was all Spokane needed to break a close game wide open.
The Chiefs turned a 5-minute power play in the second period into three goals en route to handing the Tri-City Americans a rare home loss, 6-2 on Saturday night before a crowd of 5,829 at Toyota Center.
"Their power play hurt us," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. "They worked the puck around and buried it. That was the game. Until then, it was a tight game. Games like this, you can't make a lot of mistakes."
Power plays aside, the Chiefs put forth a strong effort for 60 minutes.
"We played well right from the get-go," said Spokane coach Don Nachbaur, whose team won for the first time this season at Toyota Center. "We controlled the game. We played hard and made it difficult for them to get to our net. We are fortunate. We came all the way from Kelowna, and we've played five in seven nights. We are a tired team. Credit our guys, they had a lot of energy."
The Chiefs (37-16-4-2, 80 points) opened up a four-point lead on the Americans (36-16-2-2, 76 points) in the U.S. Division standings. The teams will meet again Monday for a replay of the New Year's Eve game that was suspended because of a hole in the ice in front of the Tri-City team bench.
The score was tied at 1 in the second period when Americans defenseman Sam Grist sent Spokane's Steven Kuhn into the boards at 7:14. Grist was given a major for boarding and a game misconduct.
The Chiefs, and their top-ranked power play, were given free reign to score, and they did.
Just 31 seconds into the extended power play, Brendan Kichton scored the first of his two goals on the night, followed by Tyler Johnson with his 44th goal of the season. Corbin Baldwin finished things off with a blast from the right point at 11:44 for a 4-1 lead.
Kichton would scored his second goal at 16:21 to give the Chiefs a 6-1 lead.
"I don't think there's a doubt that was the turning point of the game," said Americans forward Adam Hughesman, who served Grist's penalty. "It was a costly penalty and we paid for it."
Johnson scored his league-leading 45th goal at 11:44 of the third as Spokane opened up a 6-1 lead.
"It has been a great season," said Johnson, who had 36 goals last year. "I knew I could score more than I had in the past. I have great linemates and have gotten some lucky bounces."
Tri-City defenseman Brock Sutherland finished the scoring, blasting the puck past Spokane goalie Mac Engel at 14:31 on the power play.
"They were good," Hiller said. "When you play good teams you need all of your guys. You have to show up and play. We'd better show up Monday in a frame of mind to get a different result."
Space was at a premium on the ice in the first period and the 8-7 shot advantage by the Americans was evidence of that.
The Chiefs scored the lone goal of the first, set up as Matt Marantz won a face-off with Tri-City's Justin Feser and the puck was kicked to Blake Gal in the right circle. Gal's shot found a path through a tangle of players' legs and into the net at 6:18 for his 18th goal of the season.
Hughesman tied the score at 1 just 3:49 into the second period on the power play with team-leading 39th goal.
Note: With seven penalty minutes, Americans defenseman Tyler Schmidt eclipsed the 600-minute mark with 604, ranking him third all-time behind Jason Bowen (715) and Chad Cabana (702).