Tri-City Americans

Hitmen putting hurt on Ams

CALGARY, Alberta -- The Calgary Hitmen's playoff train is rolling right along. Tuesday, it will arrive at Toyota Center with a 2-0 lead in the Western Hockey League finals.

Martin Jones had 21 saves, Tyler Fiddler had a goal and an assist and Brandon Kozun had two assists to lead Calgary to a 4-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Game 2 of the WHL finals Saturday night before a crowd of 10,049 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-7 series are Tuesday and Wednesday at Toyota Center.

"The score was closer, but I thought (Friday's) game was more even," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team lost back-to-back games for the first time in the playoffs. "I really thought the inability for us to score on our power play -- we've had one of the top power plays all year in the league -- and tonight especially, we didn't make key plays when we needed to make plays. All year long we've relied on that power play, and tonight we didn't get anything going. That would have been the difference to get us back in the game."

Calgary coach Mike Williamson said the Americans brought a different game to the ice than in Game 1.

"I thought it was a close hockey game," Williamson said. "I thought we got timely goals and timely saves. Tri-City definitely had another level tonight. They won a lot of races to pucks and battles on the boards early in the game especially and Jonesy held us in."

After struggling to find the net in the first period, the Hitmen came out in the second with two quick goals to take a 3-0 lead.

Peter Kosterman scored his first of the playoffs at 2:40, and Del Cowan added another goal at 3:53, chasing Tri-City starter Drew Owsley from the net for the second straight game.

Alex Pechurskiy came in and finished with 25 saves, only giving up a goal to Fiddler late in the third that gave Calgary a 4-1 lead.

"I thought tonight he played really well when he came in," Hiller said. "He made a lot of saves, and I thought he did a great job."

The Americans, who were shut out Friday, finally got on the board at 4:34 o the second as Johnny Lazo took a feed down low from Jarrett Toll and beat Jones up high as Jones went down.

"I just found some time in the slot and I put it upstairs," Lazo said. "I was kind of surprised I was that open."

It was the first goal Jones had allowed in a span of 92:34, dating back to Game 5 against Brandon in the Eastern Conference finals. It also was the first goal Tri-City had scored against Jones in a stretch of 146:37, dating back to Dec. 6, 2008 -- a 4-1 Tri-City win.

"He is a bigger guy, has some good size, he's quick and he's was on Team Canada for a reason," Lazo said. "He's a phenomenal goaltender. We just have to get more pucks on net and more traffic than we have been."

The Hitmen looked to cash in on a 5-minute power play at 6:34 when Brendan Shinnimin was whistled for a checking-from-behind penalty on Brandon Kozun. Shinnimin also got a game misconduct, while Kozun returned to the ice two minutes into the power play.

The Hitmen had four shots on goal during the man advantage, and had a 5-on-3 for 45 seconds after Toll went to the box from tripping. During the expanded power play, Calgary had seven shots on goal, but Pechurskiy turned them all away.

"Our power play has been terrific for us all year," said Williamson, whose team was 0-for-4 on the man advantage. "We had some looks, but I thought we were trying to be too cute and hold on to the puck instead of letting it do the work for us. The tendency when you have a long power play like that is to think you have more time than you have. We just having to be willing to move the puck a couple times and get it to the net and bang away at one."

The Americans took a little steam out of the Hitmen in the first, allowing just one goal on 11 shots. Slightly better than Game 1 where Calgary scored four goals in the first 10:52 and led 4-0 after the first period.

Former Tri-City forward Joel Broda had the lone score in the first as he took a pass from Giffen Nyren from the right wing in the slot and beat Owsley for his 13th goal of the playoffs at 10:11.

"We usually start quick and score the first goal, but that obviously hasn't been the case here two nights in a row," Hiller said. "A key goal by them on a turnover -- I thought up until that point we were playing pretty well. We shot ourselves in the foot and got the building into the game and us on our heels."

Calgary looked to score early in the first, getting a 5-on-3 power play for 1:12, but managed just two shots on goal as the Americans killed of the penalties.

Ten seconds after the power play ended, Fiddler had a breakaway, but Owsley turned the puck away.

"I think we played well in stretches and better as the game went on," Williamson said. "I thought early on we weren't as sharp as we needed to be, and a lot of that was with the game Tri-City had."

The Americans had their chances in the period, getting three power plays, but they had no shots on goal during the first two, and just two on the third.

Calgary's defense not only shut down the Americans with their penalty kill, but the Hitmen held them without a shot for a stretch of nearly 12 minutes.