KENNEWICK -- The Tri-City Americans aren't ones to throw in the towel without first putting up a fight.
Down five goals in the second period, the Americans scored four unanswered goals the rest of the game before falling short 6-5 on Tuesday night to the Portland Winterhawks before a modest announced crowd of 3,605 at Toyota Center.
"We weren't feeling too good about ourselves. We didn't want to get embarrassed any more than we were," Tri-City captain Kruise Reddick said. "It was a 6-2 game (after two), and we were going to leave it all out there and see what happened. I'm proud of them for that."
The Americans (37-21-2-2, 78 points), who have six players on the injured list and skated two men short, have lost three in a row and have won just once in their last seven games.
"I am ready for bed," Reddick said. "That's what we have to deal with. We just have to put it all on the line. There are going to be bumps in the road. You just have to deal with it."
Nino Niederreiter and Sven Bartschi each had a four-point night as the Western Conference-leading Winterhawks (43-17-0-3, 89 points) won for the first time at Toyota Center since Oct. 31, 2008 -- Mike Johnston's first game behind the Portland bench -- a span of 11 games.
Down 6-2 at the end of two periods, the Americans came out firing in the third.
Just 1:14 into a leftover power play from the second, Brendan Shinnimin took a feed from Tyler Schmidt and backhanded the puck in the net at the left post to cut the Winterhawks' lead to 6-3.
Two minutes later, David Conrad got behind the defense, took a stretch pass up ice from Schmidt and went in all alone on Portland goalie Mac Carruth for his 10th goal of the season and a 6-4 game.
"I just found open guys tonight," said Schmidt, who handed out three assists. "(The defensemen) were trying to take pressure off the forwards and make the game simple so there was less skating for them."
With time winding, Portland took a timeout, but on the ensuing faceoff, Carter Ashton got the puck to Reddick, who buried it from the top of the left circle at 16:48.
The Americans pulled goaltender Chris Driedger a couple of times over the last three minutes for an extra attacker but could not tie the score.
"We came out swinging," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said of the third period. "Give them credit, it looked pretty bleak. We thought we could come back, and we played like it. We didn't give in and had chances to the end."
The Winterhawks got off to a hot start, taking a 3-0 lead in the first period before the Americans were able to find the net.
Brad Ross put Portland on the board just 7 seconds into its first power play at 8:31, and Bartschi made it 2-0 midway through the period. Craig Cunningham shot the puck from the left corner, Driedger made the save, but left the puck on the doorstep, where Bartschi tapped it in for an easy goal.
Cunningham, scoreless in three games against Tri-City this year, scored his 25th goal of the season at 14:27 to give the Winterhawks a 3-0 advantage.
With Ryan Johansen in the penalty box for cross-checking, the Americans went to work on their third power play, this time making it count as Ashton knocked in a rebound off a shot by Schmidt from the point with 9 seconds left in the period.
Niederreiter scored twice in a span of 1:55 in the second, and Joe Morrow gave Portland a 6-1 lead before Connor Rankin scored for the Americans with 20 seconds left in the period.
"We had chances," said Hiller, whose team outshot Portland 33-28 through two periods. "We had two goals, but we had enough chances to have three or four or five."