Despite giving up a third-period two-goal lead, failing to score at even strength, and taking too many penalties, the American Hockey League's first-place team battled to a 4-2 victory over the San Antonio Rampage Friday night.
Ben Street set up Max Reinhart's third-period power-play goal, which came just 38 seconds after a breakdown led to Vincent Trocheck's game-tying short-handed marker.
"You've got to respond when the other team scores," said the Heat's Ben Hanowski. "We always talk about with (head) coach (Troy) Ward, shifts after goals, for or against. We responded pretty big time there and Max made a great shot off a great pass."
Reinhart one-timed a perfect cross-ice pass from Street to beat Rampage goalie Jacob Markstrom high, glove side.
"I saw Reino on the back door," said Street. "It wasn't a great pass because he had to take it from his skate to his stick, but I got it over to him. The goalie, he's a big guy, so we talked a bunch before about trying to make him move a bunch and see how he does. Reino, to his credit, went skate to stick to top shelf. It was perfect. It was a big goal, because they were coming pretty hard."
Street also scored, giving the reigning AHL player of the month 20 points in his past 13 games. However, when Reinhart — who recently was reassigned to the Heat by the Calgary Flames — lit the red light, Street thought about what helped turn the momentum.
"The thing that was freshest in my mind was the absolute tongue-lashing we had just taken from our coach about how bad our power play was being. It was a one-way conversation."
Ward with a smirk: "I just told them I thought they were missing a good game. There wasn't a lot of good in that game. We'll just take the win and go. That said, our team found a way to win, so I have to give them credit for that. I give (Joni) Ortio a lot of credit."
Ortio made 29 saves in the win.
"The big thing is, it doesn't look that outstanding, but he just takes those pucks and deflects them away," said Street. "It's not like he's flashing leather or anything like that, but it's just so effective for us. He gives us more than a chance to win — he bails us out time and time again, and he's huge for us back there."
Michael Granlund scored an empty-net goal to go with his two assists and Hanowski also tallied for Abbotsford (18-6-2).
Trocheck had a goal and an assist for San Antonio (10-11-2), while Bobby Butler also scored. Jacob Markstrom stopped 34 shots for the Rampage.
The Heat opened the scoring at 14:08 of the second period on the power play, unleashing a shower of plush toys on Teddy Bear Toss night.
Markstrom kicked Michael Ferland's slap shot right to Hanowski at the right side of the net. He tried a cross-crease pass to Brett Olson but the centring feed went off a defenceman's skate and in, giving Hanowski eight goals on the season.
"Usually when the power play is rolling for any team it's when you have the right guys together, making plays and confident with the puck," said Hanowski. "We had that tonight, and we had a couple bounces too. We get that one off the skate to start, which always gets the confidence going a little bit."
Street scored 62 seconds into the third period on a four-on-three power play to make it 2-0.
The Rampage cut the deficit to 2-1 just a couple minutes later when Butler picked up his seventh. Trocheck began the rush and fed the puck up to Garrett Wilson, who made a great centring pass to Butler in the slot for the easy redirect past Ortio's outstretched arm.
Trocheck tied the game at 11:41 of the third while shorthanded, stripping Granlund of the puck in the slot and getting a shot off and scoring on his own rebound.
"The second goal was the result of we had four forwards out there," said Ward. "We didn't manage that power play very well. They came hard. But most of it was our puck possession and mismanaging the puck."
Reinhart put the Heat up for good with the team's third power-play goal at 12:19.
Granlund added an empty-net goal with less than a minute remaining.