The Spokane Chiefs did what a lot of teams have failed to do this season -- shut down the Tri-City Americans' top-ranked power play.
The Chiefs limited the Americans to just one goal on six chances and Kyle Beach scored the game-winner with 9:12 remaining as Spokane beat Tri-City 3-2 on Saturday night before a rowdy crowd of 5,591 at Toyota Center.
"We were very happy with our penalty kill," said Spokane coach Hardy Sauter, whose team has the top unit in the WHL. "We watched them work over Kamloops (3-for-4), and they were 2-for-5 against Vancouver. We have respect for their power play, and we know if we can stop it we can do well."
The loss ended the Americans' six game win streak, but their record of 36-12-0-1 (73 points) is still tops in the U.S. Division and Western Conference, and they remain atop the WHL standings with a four-point lead over Saskatoon.
"Just because we lost doesn't mean it wasn't a good game," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team finished a seven-game homestand 6-1. "We had a lot of good chances at the end, but it didn't go our way."
The Chiefs (27-16-3-1, 58 points) held a 2-1 lead after two periods, and Beach's game-winner -- a blast from the left point -- banked off Alex Pechurskiy's pads to make it 3-1.
"He hit the spot and it had enough velocity that just getting a piece of it wasn't going stop it," Sauter said.
Working on the back end of a power play, Adam Hughesman pulled Tri-City to within 3-2, tipping a shot by Brooks Macek past Spokane goalie James Reid with 6:11 left in the game.
The Americans were awarded their sixth power play with 1 minute to play, but Reid was able to turn away the shots that came his way.
Mitch Wahl, who has been on a roll with five goals in his last four games, got Spokane on the board late in the first as his second back-handed swipe at the puck slipped between Pechurskiy's pads at 18:48.
The Americans looked to tie the score at 2:30 of the second period as they had Reid out of the crease, but they failed to take advantage.
The Chiefs took a 2-0 lead midway through the second after Tyler Johnson won a face-off with Brendan Shinnimin and sent the puck to Stefan Ulmer at the left point. Ulmer shot the puck toward the net and Johnson followed up to make sure it went in.
Tri-City's Justin Feser cut the deficit in half at 12:12, taking a pass from Patrick Holland in the slot. Feser's shot went over Reid's right shoulder, rang off the cross bar and dropped in the goal.
"Both teams played a solid game," said Feser, who has 23 goals. "There wasn't much room to wheel around and make plays. When they had the chance, they put it in the net. These two games this weekend were a big test. Jim told us that's what the playoffs will be like and that's what we should expect the rest of the year."
Holland, who has scored nine of his 20 points in the month of January, had four assists in three games this week.
"Feser has been good for a long time, but Holly is breaking out of his shell and understanding how good he is," Hiller said. "When we needed something in the third, he took over."
The Chiefs lead the 21-year series with the Americans 128-113-1-5 with 13 ties. ... The Well Fed Well Read program collected 591 books and 270 pounds of food at the game. This season, 1,789 books and 1,106 pounds of food have been donated.
Annie Fowler: 582-1574; firstname.lastname@example.org