EVERETT -- For the fifth consecutive season, the Tri-City Americans advanced to the second round of the Western Hockey League playoffs, and the Everett Silvertips made sure they earned their ticket.
Zach Yuen, with a nice feed from Malte Strömwall, beat Everett goalie Kent Simpson in the slot at 18:53 of overtime to help the Americans to a 4-3 victory Wednesday night at Comcast Arena.
"It's so hard to make the playoffs, and it's hard to win a series," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team swept the series. "We are proud to beat Everett."
The Americans advance to play a yet-to-be-determined opponent. They will play the lowest seed in the Western Conference to advance out of the first round.
Everett, which has lost in the first round of the playoffs the last five seasons, is 4-20 in that span.
"It would have been very easy for our kids to roll over, and they didn't," said Everett coach Mark Ferner. "Even when it was 3-0, I thought our guys were playing hard. But that's a good team and they're well deserving of this series."
After Everett climbed out of a 3-0 hole to tie the score late in the third to force overtime, the Silvertips were unable to continue their push in the extra session.
With less than two minutes remaining in overtime, the Americans had sustained pressure in front of Simpson when Strömwall found Yuen.
"Malte was going to wrap it around, but their guys were collapsing," Yuen said. "He found me in the slot, and I saw that the corner was open."
"Boy, did we regroup," Hiller said. "We came out and put the pedal down. We came out in overtime and went after it. Malte made a great play behind the net. That's five points in the series and some big-time plays."
Ty Rimmer finished with 42 saves for the Americans to win his first playoff series.
"Give them credit, they didn't quit," Rimmer said of the Silvertips. "They played us hard the whole series. We feel fortunate to come out on top. I've had a lot of new experiences this year and this ranks right up there. It's special to win this with the guys. Hopefully, there is more to come."
Down 3-0 with one period to play, the Silvertips showed they weren't quite ready to call it a season.
Ryan Harrison scored on the power play at 6:10, and Ryan Murray followed at 9:10 with a short-handed goal to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Murray scored in the midst of a 5-minute power play by the Americans after Harrison was assessed a 5-minute major for charging and a game misconduct.
Tri-City, which lost Marcus Messier to a concussion on the Harrison hit, failed to score during the extended man advantage.
"Murray showed why he's one of the top players in the world at his position," Hiller said of Everett's top defenseman. "It was a great effort on that short-handed goal. Then the scramble was on."
With time winding down, Tri-City defenseman Sam Grist picked up a tripping penalty, putting the Silvertips on the power play with 2:14 left in regulation.
With 1:10 remaining, Everett pulled goalie Simpson for a 6-on-4 advantage, and with 40.4 seconds left on the game clock, Josh Caron scored from the top of the left circle to tie the game.
Caron was the most unlikely hero, having scored just one goal in an Everett uniform during the regular season after a trade from Kamloops in November.
The first two periods of the game belonged to Tri-City.
Brendan Shinnimin scored the lone goal of the first period, taking a long cross-ice pass from Adam Hughesman, and skating down the left side of the ice before cutting into the slot where he beat Simpson at 6:05 to give Tri-City a 1-0 lead.
The Silvertips had an 11-10 shot advantage and got good looks at the net, but Rimmer and the Tri-City defense negated every Everett opportunity.
The Americans parlayed their 1-0 lead at the end of the first period into a 3-0 lead by the end of the second period.
Tri-City opened the second with 1:56 left on a power play, but needed just 31 seconds to take a 2-0 lead as Justin Feser's shot from the point was blocked by Simpson, but the rebound squirted into the slot, where Mason Wilgosh lifted the puck into the net.
A turnover by Everett at the Tri-City blue line turned into an Americans goal at 9:58 as Mitch Topping's slap shot from the right point found an unobstructed path to the net.
The Americans were without forward Patrick Holland, who was serving a one-game suspension for a major clipping penalty Tuesday night. Also, forward Jesse Mychan is lost for the rest of the season. According to Tri-City general manager Bob Tory, Mychan's right Achilles' tendon was sliced during the game Tuesday night. He will have surgery next week. Rehab is expected to be six months. ... Everett forward Manraj Hayer received a three-game suspension for a checking-from-behind double minor last Saturday. His hit on Drydn Dow in the first period left Dow with a broken right arm.
* Annie Fowler: 582-1574; email@example.com