KENNEWICK -- Prince George is battling for a playoff spot, and after knocking off the top team in the Western Hockey League on Tuesday, the Cougars were upgraded from needing last rites to critical condition.
Jesse Forsberg, who spent as much time in the penalty box as he did on the ice, scored the game winner in overtime to lead Prince George to a 5-4 win over the Tri-City Americans before a crowd of 4,019 at Toyota Center.
"The guys are battling and believing," Prince George coach Dean Clark said. "We played two really good games here. They have some great players, and for us to come in here and take one is nice."
The Americans (49-19-2-2), who picked up a point, are one point ahead of Edmonton in the race for the Scotty Munro trophy with 102 points. The Oil Kings have a game in hand.
Tri-City also has a two-point lead over Portland -- which also has a game in hand -- in a battle for the U.S. Division banner.
"We made some mistakes and they capitalized," said Tri-City coach Jim Hiller, whose team won the series against PG 3-1. "Give them credit, we played them four times and every time it was a one-goal game. Maybe they deserved one."
Prince George (23-45-0-2, 48 points) is three points behind eighth-place Victoria with two games left to play.
Trailing 4-3 at the end of the second period, Adam Hughesman tied the score at 4 at 3:52 of the third, but the Americans were unable to put the game away in regulation as Drew Owsley stopped 12 of 13 shots.
Owsley, who played three years for Tri-City before an off-season trade, finished with 31 saves.
"In the third, Drew was really good," Clark said. "Drew has been good all year. I'm glad he could get a win here. I know it means a lot to him."
The Americans, who were careless in their own end several times during the game, were no better in overtime, and Forsberg made them pay.
"It felt really good to get that win. We need the points," said Forsberg, who had 13 minutes of penalties. "We lose and we're done. To get a win here against a team that elite, feels good."
For the second consecutive game, the Cougars came out and challenged the Americans, and their hard work paid off.
Caleb Belter picked off a Patrick Holland pass and fed the puck to former Tri-City forward Spencer Asuchak, who put the puck over Ty Rimmer's shoulder at 3:06.
The Americans, who had to rally from a 3-1 deficit Sunday for a 5-3 win, wasted no time in getting back in the game.
Just 6 seconds into their first power play, the Americans evened the score with a goal by Hughesman.
Back on the man advantage less than 2 minutes later, Tri-City needed just 23 seconds before Brendan Shinnimin put the puck between Owsley's pads.
Shinnimin, who also assisted on Hughesman's goal, ran his point streak to 21 games and leads the league with 131 points.
Malte Strmwall gave the Americans a 3-1 lead at 16:02, coming off the bench and taking a pass at the left point from Hughesman. Strmwall blasted the puck through traffic and it found the net for his 11th goal.
"I thought we were still pretty good offensively," Hiller said. "Defensively, we weren't that interested. That's where the game turned."
Did it ever.
Prince George cut the deficit to 3-2 at 19:01 as Troy Bourke was able to gather a wayward puck and slide it behind Rimmer, who dived across the crease to try and stop the puck.
The Cougars scored two goals in the second, both coming off Tri-City turnovers.
Linden Springer tied the score at 3 at 11:20 off a turnover in the slot, and Bourke scored his second of the night at 12:42 to give Prince George a 4-3 lead.
With one assist, Holland extended his point streak to 18 games and leads the league with 82 assists.