PORTLAND -- The Tri-City Americans jumped right back in the mix for the Scotty Munro trophy and the U.S. Division title Sunday night with a big win over the Portland Winterhawks.
Justin Feser scored with 51 seconds left in the game, and Ty Rimmer finished with 48 saves to lead the Americans to a 4-3 victory over the Winterhawks before a crowd of 10,224 at the Rose Garden.
"That was a wild one," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. "Rimmer made a whole bunch of saves -- he had to. They had 51 shots and a lot of looks in tight. The guys really battled in front of him."
The Americans (46-17-1-2, 95 points), playing three games in three nights, pulled within one point of league-leading Portland (46-16-3-1, 96 points) and won the regular-season series against the Winterhawks 6-4.
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Tri-City is second in the Western Conference, two points ahead of B.C. Division champion Kamloops (93 points).
Tri-City, which lost to Portland on Friday and at Everett on Saturday, is 6-0 this season when suffering back-to-back losses. The Americans are the only team to hand Portland a loss at the Rose Garden -- where it now is 15-2.
"The weekend looked pretty glum after the first two nights, but the sun is always behind the clouds," Hiller said. "You just have to wait a little sometimes."
With the game tied at 3 and time winding down, Malte Strmwall had the puck behind the Portland net, then found Feser out front, who beat Mac Carruth for his 35th goal of the season. Feser also had two assists.
"We've got guys who can score," Hiller said. "We had to hold the fort and wait for them to find the back of the net."
After Feser's goal, the Winterhawks pulled Carruth for an extra attacker, but were unable to even the score.
The Winterhawks outshot the Americans 51-22, but Rimmer (27-11-0-1) was outstanding, especially the last 40 minutes of the game, stopping 37 of 39 shots.
Tri-City led 3-2 after two periods, but the Winterhawks tied the score at 2:20 of the third with a goal by Sven Bartschi, his second of the game.
The Americans never trailed in the game, and the Winterhawks never let the game get out of hand.
After Adam Hughesman scored his 40th of the season at 3:42 of the second, the Americans led 3-1, but not for long.
With Michal Plutnar off with a handful of penalties and Zach Yuen going off with an interference penalty at 8:57, the Winterhawks took advantage of their 5-on-3 power play.
Brad Ross, whose original shot was blocked by Derek Ryckman, gathered the rebound and put the puck high past Rimmer at 9:43 to pull Portland within 3-2.
Tri-City's Brendan Shinnimin opened the scoring at 7:17 of the first, converting on the power play with an assist from Justin Feser.
Portland answered with a power-play goal by Bartschi at 9:33, but the Americans would take a 2-1 lead at the first intermission as Connor Rankin scored his 18th of the season on the man advantage at 14:25.
Shinnimin. who leads the league with 120 points, is on a 17-game point streak that includes 25 goals and 21 assists.
Patrick Holland, who reached the 100-point mark Saturday against Everett, had one assist and leads the league with 77 assists.
Annie Fowler, Herald staff writer