The Vancouver Giants have had their share of trouble with the Tri-City Americans as of late.
Sans a 5-2 win over the Americans on Saturday at Pacific Coliseum, the Giants are a woeful 2-12-1-1 against their Western Conference counterpart dating to 2009-10.
The Americans (13-10-0-2, 28 points) would like to even the score this season when they host the Giants (10-11-2-1, 23 points) tonight at Toyota Center.
“They are pushing from the bottom up right now,” Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said of the Giants, who have won seven of their last 10 games. “They didn’t give us a lot of chances. Obviously, going back-to-back, we know how hard it was to generate (chances). It wasn’t a great game. There weren’t a lot of scoring chances either way.”
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The Americans mustered 18 shots Saturday, while Vancouver had 29 — two of those coming with an empty net that helped seal the win.
Payton Lee, bucking to become the Giants’ starting goalie over Jared Rathjen, stopped 16 shots and the Americans were just 1-for-4 on the power play.
“We had some power-play opportunities early in the game and didn’t score,” Hiller said. “They had their power-play opportunities later in the game and they scored. Really, that summed it up for me.”
The Giants put a dent in the Americans’ vaunted penalty kill, which dropped from third to fourth (84 percent) in the WHL standings after Vancouver went 2-for-5 on the man advantage.
“They are a good team, you can’t take that away from them,” said Americans veteran forward Marcus Messier. “We could have been a bit more prepared. We just have to focus on moving forward and taking the next game one step at a time.”
Messier, who is a driving force on the penalty kill, said they can’t be perfect all the time.
“Sometimes they get those greasy goals,” Messier said. “They have a good power-play unit. We need to make sure we are in the shot lanes. Some squeak through. Sometimes that’s how it goes.”
Playing at Toyota Center has been a security blanket for the Americans over the years. They are 8-3-0-0 on home ice this season, but have not lost at home since Oct. 19 against Portland. They have won their last five home games, outscoring opponents 20-10.
“We’ve had incredible fans,” Messier said. “This is my fourth year and every year it just blows you away every night. It’s always fun to play in our building. I think of it as home ice advance because of the noise they create. It should be a fun game.”
Vancouver’s last win in Kennewick was Valentines’ Day 2012 — 5-4 in a shootout. Before that, it was a 3-1 win on Dec. 13, 2008. “They know our building pretty well,” Hiller said. “It can get loud in a hurry when we score. It can be intimidating.”
Notes: The Giants re-assigned forward Andreas Eder to a team in his native Germany. Eder, 17, was Vancouver’s second pick in the 2013 CHL Import Draft, going 61st overall. He had two goals and three points in 19 games. ... Brandon defenseman Ryan Pulock was named WHL Player of the Week. He had two goals, five assists and a plus-3 rating in three games, helping the Wheat Kings to three wins. ... The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League opened the Subway Super Series with a 3-2 win over Team Russia in Gatineau. The teams meet again today in Sherbrooke. ... Team WHL plays Team Russia Nov. 27-28 in the final two games of the series. Americans goaltender Eric Comrie will play for Team WHL.