A thrilling third-period comeback saw the Tri-City Americans score two goals in the final 2:16 of regulation to tie the Everett Silvertips 5-5 and force the game into overtime. That also meant it took about as long as it possibly could have for the T-Birds to learn who their first-round playoff opponent would be.
Had Portland pulled out a win over the Spokane Chiefs, or had Tri-City not been able to get their game to overtime, Seattle would have instead faced the Winterhawks in Round 1. But Tri-City’s remarkable comeback against an Everett team that was resting a good portion of their starting lineup means the Americans finished the regular season third in the U.S. Division and were able to avoid a first-round trip up to Prince George.
Here’s a by-the-numbers look at how the T-Birds and Americans stacked up against each other during the regular season.
6. Of the eight games these two teams played against each other this season, Seattle won six. Both of Tri-City’s victories came during the month of February at the Toyota Center. Seattle won the season’s first five contests, lost the next two, then got back on the right track with a 3-2 victory on March 3.
.916. The T-Bird’s winning percentage over the past five seasons against the Americans in Seattle: a 16-1-1-0 record. Seattle doesn’t fare nearly as well in Kennewick, where they have a 7-7-2-2 record over the same timespan. Fortunately for Seattle, their second-place finish in the Western Conference and U.S. Division means they have home-ice advantage in this series. Seattle won all four of the head-to-head matchups at ShoWare Center this season.
10. The goal differential between Seattle and Tri-City this year, where the T-Birds racked up 31 goals in their eight games, while the Americans scored 21 times. In five of those games, the Americans were held to two or fewer goals, but narrowed the differential with a seven-goal outburst on Feb. 24 in one of their two victories over Seattle.
14. The number of points scored by Mathew Barzal in seven games versus Tri-City this season. The 19-year-old center, who is expected to be back for the playoffs after missing the regular season’s final five games, had two goals and 12 assists. Keegan Kolesar, Ryan Gropp and Ethan Bear all averaged more than a point per game against the Americans as well. Tyler Sandhu was Tri-City’s leading scorer against the T-Birds during the regular season, with nine points on two goals and seven assists in eight games.
0. The number of games during the regular season where Seattle had its full roster ready to play. Only one Thunderbird, Donovan Neuls, played in all 72 of Seattle’s games this season. Austin Strand played in 74 games total. He was acquired from Red Deer after playing in 38 games for the Rebels, then played in 36 more with Seattle. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Friday night’s Game 1 could see the T-Birds playing their full lineup for the first time this year, a scary thought when you consider how successful Seattle has been while missing key components.
4. Tri-City’s power-play ranking to end the season, which came in four spots ahead of Seattle. If the Americans hope to pull off an upset in this series, they’ll need their excellent power-play unit, which converted at a 24.8-percent clip during the regulars season, to be better than Seattle’s third-ranked penalty kill. The Ams are loaded up front with Morgan Geekie, Kyle Olson, Jordan Topping and Sandhu, and have plenty of firepower on the backend with Parker Wotherspoon and Juuso Valimaki. They will, however, be missing Michael Rasmussen, who is out for the remainder of the season with a fractured wrist. The top prospect was averaging over a point per game before the injury. Vladislav Lukin, Tri-City’s fifth-leading scorer, did not play in the Americans’ final regular season game and was most recently listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
33.3. Seattle’s power-play conversion percentage in head-to-head matchups versus the Americans this year, far higher than their 22.2 percent conversion rate during the regular season. The Thunderbird’s penalty kill also held the Americans below their regular season average, killing 80.6 percent of the Americans’ power-play opportunities. Once again, having a healthy roster will make Seattle even more of a threat with the man advantage.