When the Tri-City Americans score the first goal of the game, you might as well shut off the lights and hand them the two points.
Ty Rimmer had his second shutout of the season and the Americans scored three second-period goals en route to a 5-0 victory Saturday night over the Vancouver Giants.
"It was nice, we haven't scored a lot of goals this year," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team is 5-0 this year when scoring the first goal of the game. "It was nice to see the puck back in the net for us. The first goal carries a lot of weight. You always want to get off on the right foot, especially in this building."
The Giants haven't won a regular-season game at the Toyota Center since Dec. 13, 2008 -- a streak of five games. They have been outscored 31-7 in that span.
"We're still trying to find our way," said Vancouver coach Don Hay, whose team has battled injuries and goaltending changes in their 10 games. "We are getting guys back in the lineup, and some of the young guys need to fit in sooner or later."
Last season, the Americans (7-3-0-0, 14 points) were 36-5-0-1 when they scored first.
"It's huge to score that first goal. We take pride in that," Rimmer said. "The crowd gets into it, and we appreciate that."
On Saturday, Michal Plutnar was the first to find the net for the Americans, taking a pass across the slot from Jordan Messier and lifting the puck into an empty net behind Giants goalie Adam Morrison at 1:15 of the second on the man advantage.
Connor Rankin, who has had a breakout sophomore season, set up the Americans' second goal, using some fancy stick work to get himself out of a sticky situation.
Rankin had the puck going up the ice, but Vancouver's Marek Tvrdon took it away and wheeled around the net. Rankin followed, got the puck back and slipped it out front to Adam Hughesman, who put it the net for his eighth goal of the season at 4:55.
"I'm the luckiest guy in the league to get to play with (Hughesman and Brendan Shinnimin)," said Rankin, who finished with two assists. "They have had a big influence in my point production. We are winning and that is our focus. Personal points come second."
Zach Yuen set Hughesman up for his second goal of the night, making a blind pass across the top of the crease to Hughesman as he was falling down. Hughesman gathered in the puck and beat Morrison at the left post at 16:59.
"Bounces haven't been going our way," said Hughesman, who leads the Americans with 18 points. "I had some nice passes from my teammates. That was a great pass by Rankin -- I've had a few of those lately, but they haven't gone in. Tonight, we worked hard for the bounces and we deserved them."
In the third, Jordan Messier found the net for his second of the season at 10:17, and Malte Strmwall connected on the power play at 13:42, coming off the bench, skating into the slot and taking a nice pass from Shinnimin.
Rimmer, who is 3-1 lifetime against Vancouver, finished with 26 saves for his sixth career shutout.
"Ty's been on a roll," Hiller said. "The game is always fun when you are on a roll. He had to make some big saves tonight, especially in the third."
Each team put their defense on display in the first. There was no scoring, but the Giants had an 11-7 shot advantage.
"I thought we played a good first, probably the best period we've played here in quite some time," Hay said.
Vancouver had one power play in the first, but the Americans blocked six shots and the Giants had no shots on goal.
"The boys were battling out there tonight," Rimmer said. "They made some big blocks. Our D corps was laying it on the line tonight."