KENNEWICK — Over the last five games, the Tri-City Americans had a hard time finding the net. Saturday night, they had their biggest output of goals in more than a year.
Brendan Shinnimin and Mason Wilgosh each had two goals and Adam Hughesman three assists to lead the Americans to an 8-3 victory over the Spokane Chiefs before a packed house of 5,818 at Toyota Center.
"It feels good to win big against your biggest rival," said Shinnimin, whose goals were his first since returning from a 12-game suspension. "It feels good to help your team win. Tonight was a great group effort. It feels good to get the two points and back on the winning track."
The Americans (12-8-1-1, 26 points) had lost five in a row coming into the game, but after rookie Connor Rankin scored for a 3-1 lead in the first period, there was no stopping them.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"We needed that," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "It was a hard-fought win despite the score. (Spokane) never gave up. We had so many chances last night (4-3 loss at Chilliwack on Friday) to score and we didn't. Tonight, we had less chances and it went in."
With the loss, Spokane (10-9-1-1, 22 points) has lost two straight.
"One through 20, we were all the same; we weren't any good," said Spokane coach Don Nachbaur. "Every team has its off nights. This is our first in a month."
The goals were plentiful in the first period as the Americans took a 4-1 lead.
Patrick Holland got things going with a power-play goal at 6:56. Holland was camped out at the top of the crease as Justin Feser flung the puck toward the net. Holland was there for the redirect and his 10th goal of the season.
Just nine seconds later, the Americans took a 2-0 lead as Wilgosh took a pass from David Conrad and shot it across the front of the net, beating Reid glove side.
The Chiefs cut the deficit in half at 11:46 as Mike Aviani was able to slip the puck in at the left post as a handful Spokane players were whacking at the puck.
The Americans took a 3-1 lead at 12:15 -- just 9 seconds into their second power play -- as Rankin took a backhanded pass off the back wall from Hughesman in the slot and beat James Reid for his first goal on home ice.
Tri-City used its speed and precise passing to take a 4-1 lead with 4:09 left in the first as Hughesman went cross ice to Holland, who in turn hit Shinnimin across the slot for an easy goal at the left post.
The goals just kept coming in the second as Jordan Messier's 13th of the season chased Reid -- who finished with 13 saves -- and gave Tri-City a 5-1 lead.
Tyler Johnson added a power-play goal for Spokane, but goals by Drydn Dow and Wilgosh 1:39 apart late in the period put the game out of reach.
"Everyone has a different role, but when you can chip in a couple of goals, it's exciting," said Wilgosh of his third career two-goal night. "When you don't score much, it feels good. Feser and Holland are easy to play with. We just came out and kept it simple."
Each team had one goal apiece in the third, with Tanner Mort scoring for the Chiefs and Shinnimin getting his second of the night to finish the scoring.
"We were getting pucks to the net and were getting rewarded," Shinnimin said.
Drew Owsley finished with 27 saves for the Americans and needs just one win to reach 50 for his career.