ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - The Abbotsford Heat's winning streak was extended Tuesday night, thanks to goals from a pair of hot forwards.
Their streaking goaltender helped too.
Blair Jones scored the winner in the Heat's 2-1 victory over the San Antonio Rampage in American Hockey League action, giving them their fourth-straight victory.
The 27-year-old veteran of 114 NHL games now has four goals in his past three games.
"He's an NHL player in his opinion," said Heat head coach Troy Ward. "Blair is playing with some jam. He's trying to make a statement of what he is. I'm glad he's getting some points because he worked hard early in the year and didn't get any reward."
Jones scored his goal at 13:28 of the third while the Heat had their third two-man advantage of the evening. Tyler Wotherspoon teed up a one-timer slap shot for Jones, who beat San Antonio goalie Michael Houser top corner for his fourth of the season.
"Spooner made a nice pass across to me, right in the perfect spot, and I was able to get a shot off from where I wanted," said Jones. "It was about time. We had enough chances tonight on the power play so it was nice to finally get one."
Markus Granlund also scored for Abbotsford (8-4-1) and has three goals in his past four games. The 20-year-old AHL rookie had been slow adjusting to the smaller North American ice but is coming into his own.
"I need to find him more ice," said Ward. "He has a great feel for the game and he's more competitive than people realize. He's playing well, but he can play better. I just need to put him with the right people, that's on me."
Joni Ortio made 23 saves, picking up his fourth-straight win since Reto Berra was called up by the Calgary Flames. He has won each start he's made since being called up from Alaska of the ECHL, including going 3-0-0 on an eastern road trip.
"Joni was awesome again," said Jones. "He's been solid for us, making some saves to keep the score 1-1. We were fortunate that he was ready to play tonight. He was one of few."
Ortio made a series of big stops late in the second period and throughout the third while his team struggled to put the game away. Two-thirds of his saves came in the second half of the game.
"They had a couple of good chances but they could have had even more but I think we were solid defensively," said Ortio, alluring to the amount of blocked shots the Heat had. "There were periods of time when we spent a lot of time in their own end but I don't think we gave them that many looks that they could have gotten."
However, the game was very back and forth in the third period.
"We got pushed around quite a bit in the second but the third period turned out to be quite a bit looser," said Ward. "A lot of give-and-take, back-and-forth. It was very loose for us tonight which means mentally we were not engaged. We chased the game a lot tonight. We were fortunate to be on the power play enough where we could make a difference."
The game featured four five-on-three power plays — three for the Heat — and 20 total infractions whistled. Abbotsford went 2 for 9, while the Rampage were 0 for 7 on the power play.
John Lee scored for San Antonio (4-6-0), who had a two-game win streak snapped. Houser stopped 23 shots.
The Heat opened the scoring with 29 seconds to go in the first. Corban Knight's one-timer slap shot from the point was deflected by Grandlund over Houser's shoulder, giving him three goals on the year.
Mark Cundari thought he had made it 2-0 two minutes into the second, but his goal was immediately waved off because a Heat player pushed a Rampage defender into the goaltender.
The Rampage tied the game at 14:02 of the second. Lee's wrist shot from the point found its way through two sets of legs, giving the defenceman his first on the year. That came in his third game this season after scoring just once in 50 games in his rookie campaign.
Houser came up big for his team five minutes into the third period, first stopping Ben Street on a breakaway and then getting a toe on Max Reinhart's shot from the slot, to keep the game tied 1-1.
Not to be outdone, Ortio made a pair of athletic saves around the eight minute mark, including a toe save on Vincent Trocheck from the slot.
Jones then got his goal with seven minutes to play to put his team up for good.
The two teams face each other again Wednesday night.