EVERETT — Tyler Sandhu has fond memories of his time playing for the Everett Silvertips.
And, judging by the smattering of cheers and clanging cowbells when the Tri-City Americans forward skated back onto the ice to receive second star honors, the feeling was mutual.
“It’s always awesome (to come back),” said Sandhu, who scored two goals and added an assist as the Tri-City defeated Everett 5-3 Saturday before 5,901 fans at Xfinity Arena.
“I miss all the guys and they have great fans and it’s a great organization. I have nothing but good things to say about it.”
Sandhu, who played for Everett for parts of three seasons before he was traded to Red Deer during the 2014-15 campaign, assisted Tri-City’s first goal, tied the game with a second-period wrist shot and added an empty-netter with 46 seconds to play.
Tri-City (31-31-2-1, 65 points) moved within four points of Spokane for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“We understand we’re coming down to the wire and that we need wins, so we talk about that before the game and we understand that we need to come out and play our best every game,” Sandhu. “Every game is important and we need to come out and work.”
Everett (36-22-4-3, 79 points), which lost its U.S. Division lead in Friday’s shootout defeat to Seattle, fell two points behind the Thunderbirds who beat Portland 2-1 on Saturday night. The Tips dropped to 3-4 against the Americans this season and Everett has won just once in its past six games.
Silvertips forward Matt Fonteyne said there wasn’t any carryover from Friday’s emotional defeat, a 2-1 loss that needed seven penalty shooters per side to decide a victor.
“I think for the most part we got it out of the way,” said Fonteyne, who scored twice for Everett on Saturday. “We always talk about momentum and how it doesn’t carry from game to game or period to period. We have to grasp it early on. I think we did a fairly good job with that early in the game. But like I said, we need to get bodies to the net and go to the hard areas and score.”
Tri-City led 2-0 through the first period despite being outshot 17-8. Yet that early lead merely underscored what proved to be a wild second stanza that featured two lead changes and two ties.
Carson Stadnyk set up Everett’s first goal when he curled behind the net and fed a pass to Fonteyne, who put it past Tri-City goaltender Nicholas Sanders to make it 2-1 at 2:37.
Dario Winkler tied it at 10:54 when he slipped a rebound between Sanders’ legs, and Fonteyne gave the Tips the 3-2 lead exactly a minute later when he drove in from the left circle and flicked a backhander over Sanders’ right shoulder.
Though it appeared Everett had captured the momentum, Tri-City needed less than three minutes to snatch it right back. A stoppage in play seemed to aid the Americans when the puck left the ice in the Tri-City end. The Silvertips wanted a delay of game called, but the referees determined the puck had been inadvertently deflected out of the rink.
Sandhu wasted no time in tying the game when he skated in from the left circle and beat Everett goalie Carter Hart while drawing the netminder across the crease at 14:10.
Morgan Geekie reclaimed the lead with an assist from Juuso Valimaki at 15:21, the Americans took the 4-3 lead into the second break.
“We can’t let those things bother us as much as it did,” Fonteyne said, referring to the puck leaving the rink. “I think they scored two goals in three minutes after that. Whatever happens we just have to play the game. We can’t worry about that outside stuff.”
The Americans took the 1-0 lead when Kurtis Rutledge set up behind the net and found Michael Rasmussen all alone in front. Rasmussen then flicked the puck past Hart at 5:35 in the first. Jordan Topping added another goal less than three minutes when he drove to the net from the right boards and fired a wrist shot over Hart’s right shoulder for a 2-0 lead at 6:58.
Sanders finished with 36 saves while Hart had 20.
The Tips return to action with a rare Tuesday match-up against Portland at Xfinity Arena.
For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter @jessegeleynse.
Americans 5, Silvertips 3
Tri-City 2 2 1 — 5
Everett 0 3 0 — 3
1st Period—1, Tri-City, Rasmussen 16 (Rutledge, James), 5:35. 2, Tri-City, Topping 30 (Bowles, Sandhu), 6:58. Penalties—Bowles T.C. (cross checking), 3:21; Rayman T.C. (cross checking), 10:34; Bajkov Evt (cross checking), 19:59.
2nd Period—3, Everett, Fonteyne 14 (Stadnyk, Millar), 2:37 (PP). 4, Everett, Winkler 7 (King, Laurencelle), 10:54 (PP). 5, Everett, Fonteyne 15 (Juulsen), 11:54. 6, Tri-City, Sandhu 18 (Bowles), 14:10. 7, Tri-City, Geekie 11 (Välimäki), 15:21. Penalties—Lukin T.C. (roughing), 1:27; Yaremko T.C. (boarding), 9:19.
3rd Period—8, Tri-City, Sandhu 19 (Carlo, Bowles), 19:14.
Shots on Goal—Tri-City 8-9-8-25. Everett 17-11-11-39.
Power Play Opportunities—Tri-City 0/1; Everett 2/4.
Goalies—Tri-City, Sanders 7-3-0-1 (39 shots-36 saves). Everett, Hart 34-21-1-3 (25 shots-20 saves).