Heat struggle on power play in loss to Monsters

Stefan Elliott and Calvin Pickard starred as the Lake Erie Monsters salvaged a split of their weekend series with the Abbotsford Heat

Stefan Elliott and Calvin Pickard starred for the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday as they salvaged a split of their weekend series with the Abbotsford Heat.

Elliott, a defenceman from North Vancouver, scored two goals and goalie Pickard turned aside 29 shots as the Monsters prevailed 3-2 at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.

Special teams were problematic for the Heat – after scoring two power play goals in Friday’s 5-2 season-opening win, they fizzled with the man advantage on Saturday, going 0-for-8.

The Monsters, meanwhile, went 2-for-7 on the power play, with both tallies coming in the first period courtesy Elliott and Brad Malone. Those goals combined to erase an early Abbotsford lead – Corban Knight, with his first goal as a professional, had staked the Heat to a 1-0 advantage just 31 seconds into the first period.

Max Reinhart, with his first of the season, leveled the score at 2-2 at 12:54 of the second period, but the Monsters regained the lead midway through the third as Elliott was given credit for a goal that may have deflected in off of Heat defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon.

Pickard nursed the one-goal lead the rest of the way, and made his best save of the night in the dying seconds off Reinhart. With Heat on a six-on-four power play – Monsters forward Garrett Meurs was in the penalty box for tripping, and Abby goalie Reto Berra was on the bench in favour of an extra attacker – Roman Horak fed Reinhart for a one-timer with a yawning cage in front of him. But Pickard somehow got a glove on the puck with three seconds left in regulation.

The Heat (1-1-0) host their first regular season home games of the 2013-14 campaign this week, as the Milwaukee Admirals visit the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre on Friday and Saturday (7 p.m. both nights).

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