KENNEWICK -- For the first time in a long time, the Tri-City Americans didn't have to ride the coattails of Brendan Shinnimin, Adam Hughesman and Patrick Holland to victory.
Malte Strömwall scored two goals and had an assist Friday night to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 7-2 victory against the Everett Silvertips in the opening game of their Western Conference playoff series before a crowd of 3,501 at the Toyota Center.
"It was a good start for us," Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. "Shinny, Hughesman, Holland and (Justin) Feser, just one goal all night. We spread it around. I'm really satisfied with the way we played. We had a game plan, and we executed it."
The Americans had six players score goals, and Ty Rimmer finished with 14 saves to pick up his first playoff victory on his 20th birthday.
The best-of-7 series continues today at the Toyota Center, while Games 3 and 4 will be Tuesday and Wednesday at Comcast Arena in Everett.
"They were good, and we weren't," Everett coach Mark Ferner said. "We turned the puck over too many times. We didn't work, to be honest. We know we need to be better. We can't play like this and give ourselves an opportunity to be close."
Tri-City wasted no time in asserting its dominance over the Silvertips, taking a 4-1 lead at the end of the first period.
Jesse Mychan got the Americans rolling with a power-play goal just 3:11 into the action, beating Kent Simpson between the circles off a pass from Shinnimin.
Strömwall set up his own goal 5 1/2 minutes later, sending the puck off the back wall to Mitch Topping, who sent the puck to the net. Simpson stopped Topping's shot, but Strömwall got the rebound and put the puck past Simpson.
"It was hard for me to score in the regular season," Strömwall said. "I was in the right places today. I think it was my best game of the year. We played great hockey, and my line (Connor Rankin and Jordan Messier) was on fire tonight."
Mason Wilgosh gave Tri-City a 3-0 lead just 17 seconds later, picking up a loose puck and lifting it over Simpson's left shoulder, and prompting Everett to use its only timeout of the game.
Everett's Ryan Murray gave the Silvertips life at 10:47 as his one-timer from the top of the right circle beat Rimmer. His shot was so hard, the puck stuck in the twine of the net.
With the teams playing 4-on-4, Strömwall brought the puck out of his own end, sliced between Silvertips Cody Fowlie and Josh Caron at the Everett blue line and headed to the net.
With Simpson committed to Strömwall, he slid the puck across the crease to Connor Rankin, who had an open net behind Simpson with 42 seconds left in the period. Rankin also added an assist.
"Malte is a big-game player. We know that about him," Hiller said. "He was close to breaking out in the regular season."
The Silvertips had an extended power play early in the second, playing 5-on-3 for 48 seconds, and 5-on-4 for 1:12, but failed to produce a shot on goal.
"Defense first is our mentality," Zach Yuen said. "The whole game was fun. We were rolling four lines and it was good to see the depth in our scoring. That's important in the playoffs."
With a few seconds left on the power play, the Silvertips lost control of the puck and Holland sent it up ice to Hughesman, who beat Simpson at 8:04 to give the Americans a 5-1 lead.
That would be the end of Simpson's night. He finished with 18 saves and gave way to Austin Lotz.
Everett pulled within 5-2 at 17:53 as JT Barnett, skating across the slot, got his stick on a shot by Murray from the right point and deflected it past Rimmer.
"They were getting traffic to the net and that made it difficult," Rimmer said. "The guys played outstanding in front of me. Zach (Yuen) broke up a couple of 2-on-1s. We are going to need that in the playoffs."
Strömwall scored his second goal of the night at 13:23 of the third, and Brian Williams finished off the scoring at 17:26.