KENNEWICK -- The Tri-City Americans have put their loss to B.C. Division-leading Kamloops behind them.
They don't have much of a choice, the competition doesn't get any easier this weekend with a game at Vancouver tonight and at Spokane on Saturday.
"We'd like to win every game, but we know that isn't possible," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team is in the midst of a five-game road trip. "We played better last night than in a few games we won during our streak."
The Americans (32-8-0-0, 64 points), who won 13 consecutive games before a 3-2 loss at Kamloops on Wednesday, take on a Vancouver (26-14-1-1, 54 points) team that has won two in row and three of its last four.
"They have a great home record (16-4-0-1) this year," Hiller said. "We've got a pretty good history with them. It's turning into a rivalry with the last couple of playoff series."
The Americans have won the last two playoffs series with Vancouver -- 4-1 in 2009-10 and 4-0 last season.
The Giants, second to Kamloops in the B.C. Division, are fourth in the Western Conference, but just three points behind third-place Portland.
"With me being away for a month, I thought Glen (Hanlon) and Yogi (Svejkovsky) did a great job with the club," said Vancouver coach Don Hay, who led Team Canada to a bronze-medal finish at the World Junior Championship earlier this month. "We kept our head above water and didn't lose ground. We have a little bit of a homestand here and we are coming off big wins over Portland and Prince George, and we have tough ones coming up against Tri-City and Kelowna. It's good that every game matters. It's always fun when there is good competition and you have to work for your wins."
Tri-City won the first game of the series with the Giants 5-0 on Oct. 15 at Toyota Center.
"Tri-City has pulled away," Hay said. "They had a great December and early January. They are rolling and playing well. They deserve to be where they are. Hopefully we will play well against them."
The Chiefs have won four in a row, with their latest win -- 6-1 over Everett on Wednesday -- giving coach Don Nachbaur his 500th career win.
"Spokane has been a scary team since the beginning of the season," said Hiller, whose team is 4-1-0-0 against the Chiefs this season. "They have gone through a rough patch, but they are one of the better teams in the Western Conference. We see them enough to know they are a good team. A lot of teams would trade records with them."
Spokane (21-13-2-3, 47 points), which is at Everett tonight, is third in the U.S. Division and fifth in the Western Conference. The Chiefs are seven points behind Vancouver and eight points in front of sixth-place Kelowna.
The Americans will welcome defenseman Sam Grist back to the lineup tonight, and will get a better look at newcomer Jesse Mychan, who had a goal against Kamloops in his game with Tri-City.
"Sam was banged up a bit, but he will play (tonight)," Hiller said. "You want your guys to be 100 percent. Jesse is strong like a bull. We are going to need that. He scored and went to the net. We told him we need him to be a hockey player first and a physical player second."
NOTES: Tri-City has allowed 91 goals this season, the fewest in the league. No team has scored four or more goals against the Americans since their 6-2 loss to Kelowna on Nov. 30, a span of 14 games. ... Hiller coached his 400th career game Wednesday -- his 184th with the Americans. ... Hay and Kelowna coach Ryan Huska will serve as associate coaches at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Feb. 1 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia. Hay will join Pat Quinn behind the bench for Team Orr, while Huska will work alongside Mark Recchi and Team Cherry.