KENNEWICK -- There are many nights when Calvin Pickard saves the Seattle Thunderbirds from being picked apart like a turkey on Thanksgiving Day.
Tuesday was not one of those days.
Tyler Schmidt, Justin Feser and Patrick Holland each had a goal and three assists, and the Tri-City Americans won their fourth straight with an 8-4 victory over the Thunderbirds before a crowd 3,560 at Toyota center.
"I thought it was Schmitty's best game of the year," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "He chipped in offensively, he had big hits and played solid defense. He painted a picture tonight of what he can do with and without the puck."
The Americans (23-11-1-1, 48 points) have won eight of their last 10 games and trail U. S. division-leading Portland by five points.
"It's been a good first half of the season," said Schmidt, who had his first career four-point night. "We just have to continue that the next 36 games."
Seattle (16-15-3-4, 39 points), which is winless in its last 15 trips to Toyota Center, has dropped two straight since beating Portland on New Year's Eve.
"They are a clever team offensively and they caught us a couple of times on the rush," said Seattle coach Rob Sumner. "Their power play was 2-for-2 to start and that made it tough on us."
Tri-City led 5-2 after two periods, but Seattle never backed down. Pickard made a couple of dandy saves, Charles Wells scored a short-handed goal and Travis Toomey scored his second of the night at 8:13 before the Americans were able to put the game away.
Hiller called a timeout at 12:57 to get his team a line change, and the Americans came back to life, scoring three unanswered goals by Zach Yuen, Mason Wilgosh and Brendan Shinnimin in the last 4:57 of the game.
"(Seattle) didn't quit. We played a little sloppy and they burned us for a couple," Hiller said of the third period. "Sometimes you can get away with it but tonight we didn't."
After tying the game late in the first period, the Thunderbirds came out pressing at the start of the second, but it would be the Americans who would take a 2-1 lead as Patrick Holland redirected the puck into the net at 5:17.
Seattle would tie the game a 2 just three minutes later on a goal by Chance Lund, but the Americans would add goals by Schmidt, Adam Hughesman and Feser to take a 5-2 lead after two.
Schmidt went top shelf on Pickard at 12:29, then sent a beautiful pass across the slot to Hughesman, whose shot just beat Pickard's glove at the left post at 15:17. Feser shot the puck under Pickard's left arm at 19:21 to close out the period.
"It was exciting," said Schmidt, who moved into second place in assists by a defenseman with 107. "It was one of those nights where everything went my way. I've been here a long time. It's nice to know I'll be leaving something behind."
Pickard, who is winless in 10 starts with a 4.77 goals against average at Toyota Center, finished with 37 saves.
"We kept clawing our way back in, but they kept putting it out of reach," Sumner said. "We put pucks on net late in the game -- we had a ton of missed nets to that point. When we stuck to that we were rewarded. Perhaps had we done that the whole game we would have had a little more offense."
Tri-City dictated play the first 12 minutes of the first period, outshooting the Thunderbirds 13-1 and taking a 1-0 lead courtesy of goal by Neal Prokop.
Pickard kept a tight lid on the goal in the first as the Americans had a 16-6 shot advantage, but he had no chance on Prokop's power-play goal that found daylight on the far side of the net at 5:42.
The Thunderbirds turned up the pressure during the final minutes of the first period and evened the score when Burke Gallimore's shot clanked off Drew Owsley's left pad and popped out into the crease where Toomey was there to guide the puck in the net at 14:37.
Owsley, who finished with 24 saves, tied Brian Boucher for fourth on the team's all-time wins list at 60.
NOTES: With a goal and an assist, Hughesman has 201 career points. ... Owsley was named WHL goaltender of the month for December. He posted a 6-2 record with a 1.75 goals against average and a .945 save percentage.