One night after the Abbotsford Heat leapfrogged the Oklahoma City Barons for first place in the Western Conference, the Barons took it right back.
The Edmonton Oilers’ affiliate salvaged a weekend split with the Heat in Oklahoma City, bouncing back from a 2-1 defeat on Saturday to win 3-1 on Sunday afternoon.
The pivotal sequence came early in the second period. With OKC forward Milan Kytnar serving a holding penalty, the Barons struck on the penalty kill, as Chris VandeVelde notched a short-handed goal.
After Kytnar’s penalty expired, he hopped out of the box and took a breakaway pass, beating Heat goalie Danny Taylor to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.
Krys Kolanos, with his 18th goal of the season, cut the Heat’s deficit in half at 17:56 of the middle frame. Guillaume Desbiens and Clay Wilson – playing his first game back with the Heat after being reassigned by the Calgary Flames on Saturday – picked up assists on the play.
But with eight seconds left in the period, Lennart Petrell restored the Barons’ two-goal edge, and the Heat would get no closer.
The Heat’s league-leading penalty kill remains red-hot – they were perfect on three OKC power plays, and have erased all 21 man advantages through four games on their current road trip.
With the loss, the Heat (24-12-3-0, 51 points) are tied for second place in the AHL’s West Division with the Houston Aeros (21-9-2-7), two points back of the Barons (24-11-2-3, 53 points). Abbotsford and the Houston both have a game in hand in the three-way race for top spot.
The Heat wrap up the five-game road trip with a Monday afternoon tilt against the San Antonio Rampage.