KENNEWICK -- A fourth consecutive U.S. Division title is not within the Tri-City Americans' grasp this season, but keeping home-ice advantage is, making every point over the final six regular-season games very important.
Tonight, the Americans (40-22-2-2, 84 points) will try and take two points from rival Spokane (43-17-4-2) in the final game of a four-game road trip.
It is the 11th meeting between the two teams. They will play the last game of the series March 19 at Toyota Center. Spokane, which has won five in a row and nine of its last 10 games, leads the season series 6-4.
"There's lots to play for and we know what an advantage it is for us to play at home," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller.
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The Americans went 2-1 on the first part of their road trip, with wins over Vancouver and Kamloops before a 3-1 loss to Kelowna on Wednesday.
"Interesting enough, I thought our best game was in Kelowna," Hiller said. "That was the game we lost, but that was our best effort on the trip."
The Chiefs, just one point behind Western Conference-leading Portland, have taken four in a row from the Americans, but starting goaltender Drew Owsley did not play in three of the games, and was injured in the other, starting a string of nine missed games with a knee injury.
"Drew has played so well for so long," Hiller said. "He brings confidence to the team -- to everyone. You know what you are going to get. He had the experience last year when he was out, then came back and had a good run in the playoffs.
"Spokane is an excellent team, we know that. We need to have everyone on the same page and Drew is an important part of the equation."
Levko Koper has four goals and 13 assists in 10 games against Tri-City and Tyler Johnson has eight goals and eight assists.
The Americans still are without leading goal scorer Adam Hughesman (39 goals) and hard-working forward Mason Wilgosh. Both have knee injuries.
"I don't even want to speculate on those two," Hiller said. "They aren't ready yet, but they are getting better."
With Hughesman on the shelf, Kruise Reddick has been playing on the top line with Brendan Shinnimin and Carter Ashton, and all three have had success the past few games.
"Kruise is a dangerous offensive player," Hiller said. "He looks to pass, but he is dangerous as a shooter. When all three are on at the same time, they are tough to stop. That's when you see the magic."