KENNEWICK -- When it comes to being a thorn in someone's side, the Tri-City Americans are buried deep under the Seattle Thunderbirds' skin.
Defenseman Tyler Schmidt scored two power-play goals in the first period, and Justin Feser added a pair of goals in the third period as the Americans rolled to a 7-1 victory before a Tuesday night crowd of 3,535 at Toyota Center.
"We came to play and we didn't hold back," Feser said. "We wanted them to know we were coming out strong. Everyone had a phenomenal game, not just the first, second and third lines."
The Americans (25-12-1-1, 52 points) improved to 14-2-0-1 on home ice and pulled within a point of Spokane in the U.S. Division standings.
Portland leads the division with 57 points, but Tri-City still has three games in hand.
Seattle (17-17-4-4, 42 points) is 0-7 against Tri-City this season and has lost its last 16 games at Toyota Center.
"It's a pretty good recipe when the building is alive and you go out and score early on the power play," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team has scored 16 goals in the last two games. "We feed off that and it really sets a team back. We're scoring at a pretty good pace. We didn't score a lot early in the season, but it's happening a bit more now."
Tri-City also got a solid game from defenseman Matt MacKenzie, making his debut with the Americans after coming over in a trade with Calgary on Monday.
MacKenzie arrived in the Tri-Cities 10 minutes before warmups, but had a solid first outing for the Americans. He partnered with Brock Sutherland, saw time on the power play and the penalty kills. He had a couple of shots on goal and one from the point that missed the net by just a couple of inches.
"If I could play, I wanted to," MacKenzie said. "I got my gear on and went out on the ice. It was good to get in there. There are a lot of memories from playing here last year (in the WHL finals). The fans are great here. They sure get behind their team. It's a rink that is nice and loud when things are going well."
Schmidt, who had a goal and three assists last week against Seattle, scored the first goal of the game Tuesday, just 3:39 into the action.
Working the point on the power play, Schmidt dished the puck off and cut down the right lane where he beat Calvin Pickard stick side for a 1-0 game.
Zach Yuen, Schmidt's partner on the blue line, gave the Americans a 2-0 at 5:26, taking a pass out of the left corner from Adam Hughesman in the slot and beating Pickard for his fifth of the season.
David Conrad made it 3-0 at 10:42 as his shot ricocheted off Pickard's pads and rolled into the net behind the Seattle goalie.
Schmidt, who also had an assist, would score his second of the night and seventh of the season, going deep again on the power play and scoring from the top of the crease at 13:49.
"We did it last year," said Schmidt of going to the net on the power play. "We changed up what we had to do to challenge their penalty kill. The team is playing well, guys are finding me and I've had a little luck on my side."
Schmidt has scored four goals and handed out 10 assists since the Christmas break.
"Smitty, since Christmas, is playing as well as he did in the playoffs last year," Hiller said. "Each and every game, he's as focused and determined as in the playoffs."
The Americans continued their assault on Pickard in the second, outshooting the Thunderbirds 21-8 and getting a goal from Patrick Holland just 29 seconds into the period.
Holland blocked a shot by Ryan Button at the point, picked up the loose puck and went in all alone on Pickard, who is 0-11 as a starter at Toyota Center.
Feser closed out the scoring for Tri-City with a pair of third-period goals, the second coming on the power play as Tri-City finished 3-for-10 on the man advantage.
Burke Gallimore scored the lone goal for Seattle with 45 seconds left in the second period on rookie Chris Driedger, who had replaced Drew Owsley six minutes before.