0
Photo Credit: Graphic by Mike Gould.

Post-Game: Back-and-forth affair ends in Stockton’s favour

The Stockton Heat scored six goals on Monday en route to a sixth consecutive win.

Their opponents, the Manitoba Moose, dominated much of the game’s first 30 minutes before Stockton started to turn the tide. The red-hot Heat had six power-play opportunities in the game (compared to just two for the Moose) and took advantage, scoring three goals.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Heat led by 2-0, 3-1, 4-3, and 5-4 scores in this game, but the Moose continued to battle back and scored three game-tying goals to push it to overtime. After leading the Heat in scoring last year with 47 points, Glenn Gawdin finally scored his first goal of the 2020-21 campaign in the extra period to extend his team’s winning streak.

Martin Pospisil, Emilio Pettersen, Alex Petrovic, Mark Simpson, and Matthew Phillips also scored for Stockton, which improves to 6-2-0 on the season and owns the third-best points percentage in the league (.750). Haralds Egle, Jeff Malott, CJ Suess, and Nathan Todd tallied for Manitoba, with Todd scoring back-to-back goals in the second period to make it 3-3.

Goaltender Artyom Zagidulin made his AHL season debut for the Heat, stopping 34 of 39 Moose shots for his first victory of the year. Moose keeper Mikhail Berdin allowed six goals on 31 shots and fell to 6-6-0 on the season.

The rundown

Manitoba outshot Stockton by a 15-4 tally in the opening 20 minutes, but you would hardly know it by looking at the scoreboard.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Despite surviving an early Heat power play and registering eight of the game’s first nine shots, the Moose fell into a hole just 11:17 into this hockey game.

Stockton opened the scoring when defenseman CJ Lerby fired a long shot through traffic which glanced off Martin Pospisil and past Moose goalie Mikhail Berdin. Emilio Pettersen recorded the secondary assist on Pospisil’s third goal of the season.

The Moose registered seven consecutive shots to close out the first period but failed to solve Heat netminder Artyom Zagidulin, making his return to the AHL after a brief spell with the Calgary Flames.

Glenn Gawdin took a penalty with 33 seconds remaining in the opening frame, sending Manitoba to a power play that would carry over into the second period. Despite peppering Zagidulin with four shots in two minutes, the Moose failed to convert, setting the stage for the visitors to respond.

Nick Jones took a holding penalty 2:23 into the second, returning the Heat to the man-advantage. They wasted little time in capitalizing, with Matthew Phillips setting up Pettersen for a nice one-time goal from the slot at the 3:10 mark.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Haralds Egle, fresh off scoring his first AHL goal on Saturday, responded just over a minute later for the Moose. Defensemen Jimmy Oligny and Ville Heinola picked up the helpers on Egle’s second goal in as many games.

The Heat came right back and regained the two-goal lead later in the period. With Victor Hadfield in the sin bin for Manitoba, Pettersen set up Alex Petrovic for a clapper from a distance which eluded Berdin.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Pospisil served as the screen on Petrovic’s goal; it appeared he may have gotten a piece of it on its way to the net but it remains credited to the Heat captain. Adam Ruzicka received the secondary assist on Petrovic’s third of the year.

The Heat still lagged behind the 10-shot plateau by the halfway point of the game; meanwhile, the Moose rapidly approached 30. Zagidulin had to be sharp, especially after making mistakes while venturing outside his crease.

Zagidulin could only hold the Moose at bay for so long. 25-year-old breakout sensation Nathan Todd, who had recorded just one goal in his 27 career AHL games coming into this season, ripped his team-leading sixth tally into Stockton’s cage in the dying minutes of the middle period.

Three guesses who knotted the game up for Manitoba with just 67 seconds to play in the middle 20.

That’s right. Todd double-dipped, crashing the net and firing home the rebound of a David Gustafsson shot to tie the contest at 3-3. The 6’1″ centre now leads the AHL in scoring, having posted 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 13 games.

The Moose outshot the Heat 17-10 in the middle stanza but the third period tilted in the opposite direction.

Heat coach Cail MacLean opted to scratch Mark Simpson in favour of Giorgio Estephan in Saturday’s contest. Simpson, a four-year fixture at the University of New Brunswick, came through in the third period of Monday’s game by banging home a rebound to give his team a 4-3 lead.

The Moose would answer right back but, before their fourth goal, they first put their physical game on display. Alexander Yelesin is no stranger to the rugged side of hockey but he found himself on the receiving end of a crushing blow by Moose forward CJ Suess. Yelesin flew over the boards and into the home bench as a result of the thunderous collision.

Finally, with 9:31 to play in regulation, Jeff Malott broke in on Zagidulin with separation and lifted a high backhand shot over the goaltender’s outstretched glove. Malott’s sixth of the year was assisted by Declan Chisholm—remember that name—and Berdin.

Despite the game being tied at 4, the Moose looked to be in a tough spot late in the third period. Chisholm high-sticked Eetu Tuulola with 5:30 to play in regulation, drawing blood and giving the Heat a four-minute power play.

The Moose killed the first half of the penalty-kill but ended up surrendering a go-ahead goal with 3:05 to play. Matthew Phillips should likely be in the NHL at this point but Stockton is surely grateful for his continued presence in the AHL, given that he was able to go the dirty area in front of Berdin on the power play and bang home a rebound to make it a 5-4 game.

Having pulled Berdin with under two minutes to play, the Moose looked to use an extra attacker to solve Zagidulin for a fifth time. The strategy worked, with Suess corralling a rebound from Zagidulin’s right and firing a low, quick shot past the Russian keeper to knot things up at five goals apiece.

The 2020-21 Heat played overtime hockey for the first time on Monday. They must have quickly grown tired of the experience, as Gawdin chose to end it just 34 seconds after it started.

Breaking into Manitoba’s zone on a 3-on-1 rush, Gawdin received a pass on the left side from Luke Philp and hammered a shot past Berdin to seal a 6-5 win.

Stockton outshot Manitoba 16-7 in the third period and mustered the only shot of overtime.

Line combinations

Stockton

Connor Zary – Adam Ruzicka – Matthew Phillips
Justin Kirkland – Glenn Gawdin – Luke Philp
Emilio Pettersen – Martin Pospisil – Dmitry Zavgorodniy
Mark Simpson – Eetu Tuulola

*Rob Hamilton

Connor Mackey – Alex Petrovic
Colton Poolman – Alexander Yelesin
CJ Lerby – Zac Leslie

Artyom Zagidulin
Garret Sparks

Forward Alex Gallant left Saturday’s game with an injury and is still considered day-to-day by Heat coach Cail MacLean.

*The Heat used Hamilton both as a forward and a defenseman in Monday’s game.

Manitoba

Jeff Malott – David Gustafsson – Nathan Todd
CJ Suess – Cole Perfetti – Haralds Egle
Skyler McKenzie – Cole Maier – Nick Jones
Victor Hadfield — Wes Michaud

Ville Heinola – Jimmy Oligny
Dylan Samberg – Jonathan Kovacevic
Trent Bourque – Declan Chisholm
Hayden Shaw

Mikhail Berdin
Arturs Silovs

Why the Heat won

Stockton continues to boast the AHL’s best power play, chugging along to this point at 42.9%. Their three goals on six opportunities Monday surely helped boost that figure.

Zagidulin held them in the game during the first two periods, making 29 saves on 32 shots before being solved twice on seven opportunities in the final frame. Still, he made all the right saves, including one on a shorthanded breakaway just moments before Phillips’ late go-ahead goal.

The hottest Heat

Emilio Pettersen is continuing to find his groove at the AHL level. He’s been better in each successive professional game he’s played and is starting to put forth some signs of the offensive brilliance that made him such a highly-touted prospect at the University of Denver.

The 20-year-old winger may not be in NHL 21 just yet but he put up a video game-like performance on Monday, factoring in on Stockton’s first three goals and making his one-time snipe from the slot look very easy.

Post-game assessments

Up next

The Heat and Moose will meet again for the second contest of their four-game set on Wednesday at 5 p.m. MT. You can catch the game on AHL TV; I’ll be posting updates on Twitter at @miketgould.