Getting the first win of the season helps everything fall into place.
For the Tri-City Americans, it took until the third game of the season and a 28-save performance by Eric Comrie for the Americans to hand the Everett Silvertips a 3-1 loss before a crowd of 3,082 on a rare Thursday night game at Toyota Center.
“Winning is the best feeling in the world,” Comrie said. “Everyone comes together. You could tell before the game everyone was excited for this. That’s what got us this win.”
The Americans (1-2-0-0, 2 points) avoided an 0-3 start, which hasn’t happened since the start of the 1997-98 season.
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“A weight got lifted off our shoulders,” said Tri-City captain Justin Feser, who sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 4 seconds left in the game. “Now, we can go out and play.”
Everett, which dropped its first two games at home to Prince George last weekend, fell to 0-2-0-1.
“We did some good things,” Everett coach Mark Ferner said. “It’s tough when you start the game with four penalties in the first 11 minutes. The second period they were better than us. In the third, we had our chances, but tip your hat to their goalie, he played well. We still aren’t there for a 60-minute game.”
Holding a 2-1 lead going into the third, the Americans weathered a flurry of shots by the Silvertips on a penalty kill midway through the period.
With 3:08 left in regulation, Feser took a delay-of-game penalty, putting Everett on the power play.
The Silvertips pulled goalie Austin Lotz early in the power play for an extra attacker, but the Americans were blocking shots out front and Comrie was cleaning up in the crease.
“It got a little hairy there at the end,” said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. “It was exciting for everyone, except me — I was going out of my mind. That’s our game.
That’s how we have to play. We were desperate and we were around their net a lot. We did a better job of backchecking by the forwards and that allowed our defense to keep a better gap.”
Once the penalty was over, Everett’s net remained empty until Feser picked Ryan Murray’s pocket at the blue line and escorted the puck to the net, where he scored his first of the season for his 250th career point.
“I got lucky. He made one of the few mistakes he ever will,” Feser said of Murray, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. “I made sure that puck was getting in the back of the net.”
Tied at 1 going into the second period, the Americans picked up their fifth power play of the game as Everett’s Zach McPhee was called for charging.
It took nearly the entire power play to find the net, but Malte Strömwall cleaned up on the second rebound at the right post at 12:42 after Jordan Messier failed to put away the first rebound off Michal Plutnar’s shot from the top of the left circle.
The Americans had plenty of chances at the net in the second, outshooting the Silvertips 18-7, but quality shots by Feser, Jesse Mychan, Jordan Messier, Parker Bowles and Brian Williams failed to get past Lotz.
Picking up a power play just 1:10 into the game, things were looking good for the Americans, but the momentum shifted quickly as Everett’s Manraj Hayer took a slick pass across the slot on a short-handed 2-on-1 with Josh Winquist and beat Comrie for a 1-0 lead at 2:16.
The Americans would even the score at 7:18 on their third power play as Williams’ shot from the bottom of the left circle zipped past Lotz’s glove and into the net.