Tri-City Americans

MacKenzie rallies Ams by Edmonton in OT

KENNEWICK -- Matt MacKenzie works under the code of shoot now, see who scores later.

The Tri-City Americans overage defenseman had two big shots from the point Wednesday night.

The first was redirected by Jordan Messier to tie the score, and the second found the net in overtime for a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings before an announced crowd of 3,588 at Toyota Center.

"I knew passing it around hasn't worked the last few games," MacKenzie said. "Shinny gave me a nice pass. I buried my head and shot it."

The Americans (32-13-2-1, 67 points) moved within four points of U.S. Division leader Portland, and they trail second-place Spokane by one point.

The Chiefs are at Toyota Center on Friday night.

"We found a way to win," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller. "We knew coming in they skated well up front. Our special teams in general were good. They had a chance late in the game and our penalty kill was good. Our power play won us the game."

Tri-City was 3-for-6 on the man advantage, including MacKenzie's game winner, where a delay of game penalty by Edmonton carried over into the extra session.

"We are a young team and you can't take five and four-minute penalties against the top power play in the league," said Oil Kings coach Derek Lexdal. "Their power play is pretty sharp and they made us pay for it tonight. You can't give up a delay of game with a minute left. It stings a bit. They are a great team and they used this rink to their advantage."

The Oil Kings (24-24-1-3, 52 points) took a 3-2 lead at 11:38 of the third with goals by Klarc Wilson and Dylan Wruck, but the Americans, who are 19-0-0-0 at home when leading after two periods, weren't about to give in.

Working on the front end of a double minor checking-from-behind penalty by Edmonton's Kristians Pelss, Messier redirected MacKenzie's shot from the point past Oil Kings goalie Jon Groenheyde at 15:39 to tie the game at 3.

"I'd like to have two (goals), but I'll settle for one," MacKenzie said. "That was a nice tip-in by Mess. Our forwards are a pretty special group. I get my shots to the net and they tip it in or bury it."

MacKenzie's game-winner came just 53 seconds into the extra session.

"It was a great shot, and with (Carter) Ashton in front, goalies have a hard time seeing," Hiller said.

Clinging to a 1-0 lead after the first period, the Americans capitalized on their only power play of the second period to make it 2-0, when Adam Hughesman redirected a shot by Brendan Shinnimin from the point past Groenheyde at 11:41.

It was Hughesman's 34th goal of the season, and Shinnimin extended his point streak to a career best 20 games with a pair of assists.

Edmonton cut Tri-City's lead in half less than two minutes later as Michael St. Croix picked up a loose puck in the slot and lofted it over Chris Driedger's shoulder.

Driedger, making his third start of the season and first at Toyota Center, finished with 23 saves.

"I was feeling pretty confident," Driedger said. "It could have been better and it could have been worse. Experience is the best way to get better."

It took the Americans the better part of the first period before they found the back of the net at 17:13.

From the right point, Tyler Schmidt threaded the puck through traffic to Patrick Holland in the left circle. Holland skated between the circles and fed Justin Feser, who had a wide open net at the right post for his 17th goal of the season.

Tri-City had a chance to do some damage early in the first as Edmonton's Braeden Laroque got a major for boarding and a game misconduct at 7:02 for sending Holland into the boards face first as they went after a loose puck.

The Americans had six shots on goal on the extended power play, but came away empty.

Groenheyde had 42 saves for the Oil Kings, who were outshot 46-26.

* Annie Fowler: 509582-1574; afowler@tricityherald.com

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