Joey MacDonald made 29 saves and stopped all four shooters in the shootout as the Abbotsford Heat defeated the San Antonio Rampage 3-2 in American Hockey League action Wednesday.
MacDonald was making his first AHL start since Jan. 28, 2012 after being put on waivers by the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
The veteran of 129 NHL games played didn't see much rubber in the first period but was the only reason the Heat were able to get it to the shootout where Ben Street and Blair Jones scored on San Antonio's Dov Grumet-Morris.
"I think you saw tonight we were a little tired out there and ran out of juice," said Ben Hanowski. "Having (MacDonald) back there helps our confidence. He's a reliable guy, and he really played well back there tonight."
The Heat built a 2-0 lead but gave up the tying goal with six minutes to go in the third and were on their heels the rest of the game.
"They were coming pretty good in the third period," said MacDonald. "They hemmed us in our zone for a few shifts there."
The win gives Abbotsford (9-4-1) five-straight victories. Joni Ortio won the first four, including Tuesday night's 2-1 win over the Rampage.
"We had a good push for just under 30 minutes, then basically we had four flat tires," said Heat head coach Troy Ward.
"But when things are going a certain way for you and you're getting good goaltending then you manage through a hockey game. Goaltending will give you a lot of confidence to make plays and stay with things. Both Ortio and MacDonald gave us a chance to win two games and we did."
Hanowski and Street scored in regulation, while Jones extended his point streak to five games with an assist.
Abbotsford is in first place in the Western Conference, but has played more games than all but one other club.
Garrett Wilson and Bobby Butler scored for San Antonio (4-6-2).
Grumet-Morris stopped 22 shots for the Rampage, and just two-of-four shooters in the shootout, keeping him winless on the season.
The Heat opened the scoring at 11:38 of the first period. Colby Robak accidentally gave the puck away in his own crease, allowing Jones to chip the puck up and Street knocked it out of the air for his second goal of the season.
Hanowski made it 2-0 at 2:35 of the second period. Markus Granlund collected his own rebound in the corner and found Hanowski at the top of the left circle. The 23-year-old rookie wired a wrist shot past Grumet-Morris for his fifth of the campaign.
Wilson got the Rampage on the board at the 12-minute mark of the second period. Alex Petrovic's shot was redirected by Wilson in the slot, just over the sprawling netminder, giving him four goals on the year.
The visitors tied the game with less than six minutes to go in the third. Butler took a feed from Robak at the right face-off dot and blasted a shot top corner past MacDonald for his third of the season.
MacDonald shut the door from there on out, however, ending the game with a stop on John Matsumoto to clinch the win for his latest team — the fifth AHL club to go with five NHL teams in his 13-year professional career.
"It's always disappointing when you spend the last year and a half up there," said MacDonald. "But you know what, it's hockey. A lot of things happen, and throughout my career, it's happened more than once.
"The only thing I can tell you — every time it happened, I went down with a smile on my face and worked hard and eventually things worked out in the end."