KENNEWICK -- After clanking the puck off the pipe and missing open nets during the overtime period, the Tri-City Americans finally got a bounce to go their way.
Carter Ashton scored with 2.2 seconds left in overtime to help the Americans to a 2-1 victory Friday night over the Vancouver Giants in the opening game of their first-round WHL playoff series before a crowd of 3,406 at Toyota Center.
"I got lucky," Ashton said. "I spun quickly, I think the goalie tried to slide into position and it went in the net."
The Americans had six quality chances the first 15 minutes of the extra session, but couldn't connect.
"It was exciting, wasn't it?" Tri-City coach Jim Hiller said. "Both teams had some solid chances to win in the third and overtime. I don't think we were at our best, but we pushed more in the second half of the game."
Tied at 1 after three periods, the game went to overtime, where the Americans took advantage of the only power play of the period when Stastny went to the penalty box for tripping.
Ashton, who had a few missed opportunities on the night, finally got the puck past Mark Segal.
"In that overtime, we had plenty of chances," Ashton said. "Anytime you can contribute and be a key part of the game is nice. Winning the first game is huge. We knew they would come out strong and we were prepared for a close game."
Segal finished with 44 saves, giving the Giants a chance to win the game.
"It was a close checking game," Vancouver coach Don Hay said. "It came down to a bounce that went in. That's the way overtime games sometime get decided. It's a seven-game series, but we have to play better than we did tonight."
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is tonight at Toyota Center, while Games 3 and 4 will be at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.
Trailing 1-0 going into the third, the Americans poured it on the last 20 minutes, outshooting the Giants 11-2.
Tri-City's David Conrad tied the score at 1-all at 7:55, getting his own rebound after he shot the puck off the glass, and tucked the puck behind Mark Segal at the left post.
"For a guy like me who doesn't score often, to score a clutch goal is awesome," Conrad said. I could feel the guys build off that the rest of the game."
The Americans had an opportunity to take the lead late in the third after Andrej Stastny went to the penalty box for holding at 16:14, but the Giants' penalty kill was solid.
The Giants took advantage of their lone power play in the first as Brendan Rowinski redirected a shot from the point by David Musil past Owsley at 17:39.
"I thought we played a solid game," Hay said. "When you can get the lead and limit their chances, that's a good thing in Tri-City."
Rowinski's goal would be the only one scored through two periods as both goalies kept the nets clear.
"It's the playoffs and there isn't a lot of room out there," Hiller said. "We have a lot of guys who can create chances, but the opportunities were far and few between."
Owsley finished with 25 saves for the Americans, picking up his 13th career playoff win.
"They let me see the puck," Owsley said of his teammates. "That first goal was a nice tip. I made some nice saves in the second and got my confidence up after a shaky first."
* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574; email@example.com