Tri-City Americans

Americans back on the road today

FedEx delivered hockey sticks to the Toyota Center on Monday, but there were no players around to use them.

The Tri-City Americans got a much deserved day off after playing four games last week, ending Sunday with a 6-3 road win over Seattle.

The Americans will need all the rest they can get as they embark on another four-game road trip that begins today at Portland and ends Sunday at Seattle. Tri-City will play at Chilliwack on Friday and is back in Portland on Saturday.

"It was so intense through the whole weekend," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "It's taxing physically and emotionally, and they need time to recharge their batteries. You have to have time to clear your head. You can burn yourself out if you never turn the switch off."

The Americans earned four of six points last weekend with wins over Everett and Seattle and a loss to rival Spokane.

"It was tough," Hiller said. "Just take the weekend in as a whole, and with the exception of two of the nine periods, we played pretty good hockey. We are battle-tested after the weekend. Criss-crossing the country and playing in hard buildings, I thought we did a nice job."

With just seven games left in the regular season and Everett and Spokane breathing down their necks, the Americans (44-18-1-2, 91 points) need all the points they can collect down the stretch.

Tri-City is looking to win its third straight U.S. Division title, while Everett, which is four points back, is looking for its first since the 2006-07 season.

The Americans are 7-1 against Portland in their 10-game series, including a 6-0 victory Feb. 23 at Toyota Center.

The Winterhawks (40-23-2-1, 83 points) have won two straight coming into tonight's battle at the Rose Garden.

Tri-City will again be without goaltender Drew Owsley, who suffered a slight concussion after colliding with Spokane's Blake Gal on Saturday and hit his head on the ice. Alex Pechurskiy will get the start.

"Drew got bumped a little bit racing for a puck, "Hiller said. "They hit awkwardly and he went down. Clearly he got shaken a bit. We are fortunate that we've got another goalie we are comfortable with."