Finally, the Best of the West ballots have been tallied and the winners determined. This is a daunting task, and in the end all I have is sheet of paper with numbers on it. By the time Sunday morning rolls around, there are pictures, winners and the next five on the list. That always makes me feel better.
Brett Connolly watch: He played 3:52 on Thursday, getting an assist. It was his first point since Nov. 26. His last goal was Nov. 17. I can guarantee you he would play more than 3:52 in a Tri-City sweater.
Tonight, Portland is in the house. The Winterhawks are 0-3 at Toyota Center this season and 1-5 against the Americans overall.
Ty Rattie is back in the lineup for Portland after missing a few games with an injury. Mac Carruth is in goal. Portland's goaltending situation mirrors Seattle's, where Calvin Pickard plays 99 percent of the time. Carruth gets the lion's share of ice time and Brendan Burke has played just 506 minutes over 12 games.
Eric Comrie gets the start for the Americans, whose injured list just keeps growing. Marcus Messier is back, but Tyson Dallman is looking at a long stretch on the IR. Mason Wilgosh still is out, as is Malte Strömwall. Michal Plutnar is scratched, but not sure why.
An interesting twist to things tonight — Zach Yuen is paired with Sam Grist, and Mitch Topping, who usually pairs with Yuen, is paired with Justin Hamonic.
Also, Jesse Mychan is on a line with Patrick Holland and Justin Feser. Nice. They have played together some. Always fun to watch.
Puck drops in 5.
Portland's on the board with a goal by Sven Bartschi at 16:20.
The Americans are 0-2 on the power play, and killed off top-ranked Portland's one power play.
Still 1-0 Portland, but Tri-City has 2:31 left on a 5-minute power play that came after Joe Morrow sent Ams D-man Zach Yuen into the boards.
Morrow is done for the night.
Portland's Brad Ross left the game at 3:35 of the second after getting upended by an open-ice hit by Lukas Walter. Video replay shows Ross's head connected with Walter's shoulder. There was no call on the play, though there should have been. Ross returned at the start of the third.
Portland scores three in the third to hold on for a 4-2 win.
The Winterhawks led 3-0 before Justin Feser and Brendan Shinnimin scored late in the game to pull within 3-2.
Tri-City pulled goalie Eric Comrie with a minute to play, but Ross sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 49 seconds remaining.
The Americans are at Spokane on Saturday.
Right now, Toyota Center is being turned into an indoor football field by a group of workers who get yelled at by their boss more than a dozen 2 year olds in a China shop.