The Tri-City Americans are on a roll.
They won their third consecutive game — and sixth in a row on home ice — with a 4-1 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors before a Wednesday night crowd of 3,417 at Toyota Center.
Beau McCue had two goals and Eric Comrie 29 saves for the Americans, who improved to 5-0 against the East Division this season.
“That sounds good,” Hiller said of the win streaks. “We went through a pretty rough patch for awhile. Give the leaders on the team credit for pulling us out of what was a tough stretch.”
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The Americans (23-21-2-2, 50 points) have won their last eight games against Moose Jaw and 10 of the last 11 meetings. The Warriors (13-27-3-5, 34 points) last won at Toyota Center on Jan. 2, 2006.
“Can we play them for the rest of the year?” Hiller joked of the East Division. “It speaks to the strength of our division. Our side (U.S. Division) has gotten the best of them this year.”
Tri-City had a 3-0 cushion heading into the third period, and McCue added to the comfort level with a goal at 8:12 off a feed from rookie defenseman Brandon Carlo.
“I had a feeling he was going to give it up,” McCue said of Carlo. “(The puck) was bobbling on his stick. I was calling for it and he had two guys on him. He made a good play to get it where I could shoot it. I just shot it when it hit my stick.”
The Warriors wiped out Comrie’s bid for a second consecutive shutout when Tanner Eberle redirected a shot from the point by Dallas Valentine into the net at 10:21 to cut the deficit to 4-1.
The Americans’ 2-0 lead after the first period quickly turned in 3-0 as Braden Purtill’s shot from the between the face-off circle and the goal line to the left of the net went between Justin Paulic’s pads at 6:10.
The Warriors, who had just three shots in the first period, put 11 shots on net in the second, but couldn’t solve Comrie.
In a 15-second stretch in the middle of the second, Comrie got a block from one of his defensemen, then made back-to-back saves, including a slide across the crease to rob Ben Duperreault, who had a wide open net at the right post.
“He averages about two saves a game where you marvel, ‘how did he do that?’ McCue said of Comrie. “He’s just been playing outstanding. We knew coming in he would be a huge part of the team. I think he has done that and more since the start of the season. It’s nice to get shots going the other way and help him relax a bit.”
The Americans played tic-tac-goal to take a 1-0 lead just 4:17 into the game.
Lucas Nickles knocked the puck away from Moose Jaw’s Jack Rodewald at the Tri-City blue line and motored up ice with Purtill and Phil Tot.
Nickles slid the puck to Purtill in the slot, who in turn fed Tot. Tot beat Paulic from the lower half of the left face-off circle for his 15th goal of the season.
Tri-City increased its lead to 2-0 as Jessey Astles passed the puck to Justin Hamonic at the top of the slot. Hamonic drove the lane and put the puck on net. Paulic had the initial stop, but McCue was there for the rebound and the goal at 16:01.
“I thought our D corps, all six of them, it was their strongest game this season,” Hiller said. “Hamo jumping in the play, Carlo’s play to Beau on the goal. I liked their effort.”