What good would a Tri-City-Spokane playoff series be if there wasn’t an overtime game?
Playing overtime for the 15th time in the last 28 playoffs games against the Chiefs, Parker Bowles scored at 10:46 of overtime to send the Americans to a 5-4 victory over the Chiefs before 3,112 fans Tuesday night at Toyota Center.
“Brian (Williams) made a great play getting the puck out of the corner,” said Tri-City forward Connor Rankin who had three assists on the night. “I’m not sure if it was me or (Bowles). We were excited when the puck crossed the line.”
The Americans, who trail the best-of-7 series 2-1, host Game 4 on Thursday night and Game 5 on Saturday.
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“That was our team from August,” said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, who had all of his key players back in the lineup. “It’s a reflection of how this team has played. Luke looked like he did when he was in his groove 6-7 weeks ago. We are back.”
Spokane, which had a 4-1 lead early in the second period, had its chances to make something happen in the third with an early power play and 12 shots on goal, but Tri-City goalie Luke Lee-Knight turned them all away. Lee-Knight finished with 34 saves in his first career playoff start.
The Americans received a power play with 36 seconds left in the third, but the Chiefs didn’t allow them so much as a shot on goal before the buzzer sounded.
Before Bowles’ game-winner, Spokane’s Alessio Bertaggia hit a post at 3:25 and at 5:11, Spokane goalie Eric Williams robbed Brian Williams.
Bertaggia was foiled again at 7:45 on a breakaway as Lee-Knight got a piece of his glove on the puck. And to top it off, Lee-Knight made back-to-back stops at 9:58.
“I’m excited anytime I get to play against Spokane,” said-Lee-Knight, who found out Monday he would start the game. “(Bertaggia) is one of the fastest players in the league. When he came down the wall with so much speed, there was only a couple of things he could do. I was lucky to get my glove on it. I’m glad we got the win. It’s better to be 2-1 than down 3-0.”
Staked to a 3-1 lead after the first period, the Chiefs added to their lead at 6:34 of the second with a goal by Liam Stewart.
The rest of the second belonged to the Americans, who scored three unanswered goals to tie the score at 4-4.
Marcus Messier cut Spokane’s lead in half at 4-2, taking a pass from behind the net from Lucas Nickles and beating Chiefs goalie Eric Williams from the top of the slot at 10:38.
Just 1:22 later, Justin Feser scored his first of the series, getting a little help from Jesse Mychan.
The puck slid back into Spokane’s zone, where Brendan Kichton attempted to play it. Mychan tied up Kichton and Feser took the puck, firing it from the right circle and into the back of the net at the 12-minute mark.
Working on their fifth power play of the game, Americans defenseman Drdyn Dow took a pass cross the blue line from Michal Plutnar and fired it past Williams from the right point to even the score at 4-4. It was Dow’s second goal of the series.
Spokane controlled the first period, scoring twice short-handed and once on the power play to take a 3-1 lead.
Mike Aviani got things going at 3:56, as Lee-Knight misplayed the puck and Aviani was able sneak it inside the left post.
The Americans came back at 7:11 to tie the score as Bowles, off an assist from Rankin, lifted the puck into the net.
Tri-City had held off the Chiefs on a 5-on-3 power play, but with 31 seconds left on the second penalty, Mitch Holmberg found daylight behind Lee-Knight at the right post for a 2-1 lead at 12:55.
Spokane again would score short-handed to take a 3-1 lead.
Working on their fourth power play of the period, Americans defenseman Mitch Topping fell down while trying to corral the puck at the blue line and Todd Fiddler picked it up and went in on Lee-Knight all alone. Lee-Knight stopped Fiddler, but Blake Gal swooped in, got the rebound and the goal at 17:27.