After picking up five of a possible eight points at home earlier this month, the Abbotsford Heat have continued to roll, in the early going, on their season-high nine game road trip.
The Heat are a perfect three for three picking up all six points in the first third of the trip.
Abbotsford opened the trip with a 3-2 win over the Rochester Americans (NHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers) last Tuesday.
Cam Cunning opened the scoring for the Heat while Evan Barlow and Brett Sutter had the others for the Abbotsford who, early in the third, had a 3-0 lead.
The Americans managed to claw back with a pair in the final frame and outshot the Heat 30-17, but starter David Shantz managed to shut the door for the victory.
Next up for Abbotsford was a trip to Hamilton to take on the Bulldogs (NHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens) on Feb. 13. After getting down 1-0 early, the Heat scored a pair of unanswered goals from Cunning and J.D. Watt to edge the Bulldogs 2-1. Shantz, starting his seventh consecutive game, made 20 saves in the win.
Two nights later Abbotsford was in Toronto to take on the Marlies (NHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs) and for the third consecutive night Cunning opened the scoring for the Heat.
Toronto managed to tie things at one, but that was it for the Marlies as Olivier Latendresse and Mikael Backlund
each had a pair of goals helping the Heat to a 5-1 victory.
“Its’ almost how its been all year for us – you lose a bunch and then you win a bunch, said defenceman Gord Baldwin of the team’s current winning streak. “We got to straighten that out and kind of get more leveled with what we’re doing.
“Right now we’re winning so I ‘d love to stick on that, but obviously we can’t win every game all year so you know we just got to keep going.”
The Heat haven’t lost in regulation since they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Chicago Wolves on Feb. 4 and are 5-1-0-2 in that span.
A large portion of the credit has to go to the team’s penalty kill, which has surrendered just four goals on 43 opponents chances in the month of February. Backlund’s Back
As the NHL pauses for a two-week Olympic break the Calgary Flames re-assigned prospect Mikael Backlund
to the Abbotsford Heat on Sunday.
In nine games with the Flames the native of Vasteras, Swe picked up his first NHL goal and first NHL assist.
“It was really good I was given some time up there so it was good,” said Backlund of his call-up. “It was my dream come true to always play in the NHL and I was really happy to be up there.
“I’ve been really focused on doing well in the defensive zone, all those details, the forecheck, back check, face-offs - I’ve been really working and trying to be better on those.”Streaking
After picking up 15 assists through the first four months of the season, Heat defenceman Gord Baldwin has all of a sudden got a nose for the net.
The six-foot-five, 205-pound defenceman has three goals and three helpers in eight games so far this month.
“I’ve just been throwing the puck on net and getting a bit lucky,” Baldwin said. “That’s just how it goes sometimes – there’s points in the season where you can’t buy one and there’s points in the season where everything seems to go in.”
Also hot at the moment is forward Cam Cunning, the native of Powell River, BC has four goals and four helpers in eight games this month.
“I don’t think I’ve been doing anything differently,” admitted Cunning. “I think I’ve just got a few chances and some lucky bounces on the power play and they’ve kind of been tap in goals for me. I’ve got to keep that going – if the chance is there I got to bury it.”By the Numbers
2 – Power play goals surrendered by the Heat on their current road trip.
3 – Consecutive games Cam Cunning has got the first goal for the Heat.
4 – Power play goals the Heat have scored in the first three games of their road trip.
8 – Consecutive games David Shantz has started in February. He’s 4-2-1 for the month. The Look Ahead
The Heat are now 26-23-4-4 through 57 games good for 60 points and fourth place in the North Division.
They have four games over the next week with stops in Providence (Feb. 19 and Feb. 21) and Bridgeport (Feb. 20 and Feb. 24).
Abbotsford wraps up their nine-game trip with a pair of games in Worcester.