KENNEWICK — When it rains, it pours. After just seeing just three pucks go in the net Friday night, Tri-City and Vancouver combined for nine on Saturday.
Matt MacKenzie scored the game-winning goal at 9:47 of the second period to lead the Americans to a 5-4 win over the Giants before a crowd of 3,927 at Toyota Center and take a 2-0 lead in their first-round WHL playoff series.
"Every game in the playoffs tells a story," said Americans coach Jim Hiller. "Tonight we had a whole bunch of penalties and goals, and last night no one could score. That's the evolution of the playoffs -- you have to adapt."
The best-of-7 series moves to Vancouver for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday at Pacific Coliseum.
"Last night was a feeling out game, and tonight was an emotional game," Giants coach Don Hay said. "There's passion and intensity and the teams start to dislike each other. We just need to play better for 60 minutes. You can't play in spurts and win in the playoffs."
The Americans held a 5-4 lead after the second period, then had to kill off four Vancouver power plays in the third period to preserve the win.
"The bright spot tonight was we were able to kill those penalties," Hiller said. "I'm glad we don't have to play tomorrow, there are some tired boys in that locker room."
The game ended with a skirmish in front of the Americans' net, bringing a slew of penalties for both sides.
"Things are going to get heated," said Tri-City defenseman Tyler Schmidt, who was dinged for a roughing minor and a fight after handing out three assists during the game. "We are going to stand up for each other and not back down. It's a good rivalry and we play hard against each other."
After a goal drought Friday, the teams combined for five goals in the first period Saturday.
Vancouver came out and made a statement just 24 seconds into the game with a goal by Brendan Gallagher, but the Americans came back with three consecutive goals to take a 3-1 lead at 14:09.
Brendan Shinnimin tied the score at 1-all after he redirected a shot from the left point by Schmidt past Mark Segal at 2:56.
"I thought Shinnimin's goal was important," Hiller said. "We needed to answer back."
Patrick Holland gave Tri-City a 2-1 lead, taking the puck up the ice down the right lane and firing toward the net. His shot ricocheted off Vancouver defenseman Neil Manning's skate and into the net at 9:14 as the teams were playing 4-on-4.
Holland again led the charge five minutes later, this time dishing off to Justin Feser in the slot for a short-handed goal.
"Goals are like bananas, they come in bunches," Holland said. "It was a different scenario tonight. We've seen it all."
Michael Burns pulled the Giants within 3-2 at 18:57, just beating Drew Owsley's left skate to the post.
The Americans' 3-2 first-period lead didn't last long as Vancouver's Nathan Burns, with an assist by older brother Michael, beat Owsley at 1:52 to tie the score. Owsley would finish with 28 saves.
The goal didn't faze the Americans, who struck back with a pair of goals in a span of 3:17.
Neal Prokop put the puck over Segal's shoulder at 6:30, and MacKenzie's blast from the high slot came at 9:47 on a 5-on-3 power play.
The Giants stayed within striking distance with a late goal by Jordan Martinook at 16:24 for a 5-4 game.
"A two-goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey," Holland said. "Teams never seem to die when they are down two."