The red-hot Street notched a hat trick, extending his personal point streak to five games and sparking the Heat to a 5-4 comeback win on the road vs. the Oklahoma City Barons.
The Heat boosted their franchise-record regular season win streak to nine games, while Barons goalie Ilya Bryzgalov took the loss in his first start of the season.
The quirky, quotable 33-year-old Russian was considered one of the NHL’s elite netminders as recently as the 2010-11 season, but fell upon hard times after departing the Phoenix Coyotes to sign a nine-year, $51 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2011. This past June, after two subpar seasons, the Flyers bought out the remaining seven years of his contract.
The Edmonton Oilers, currently last overall in the NHL and receiving shaky ‘tending from Devan Dubnyk, rolled the dice on Bryzgalov, signing him to a one-year contract last week and sending him to the Barons for a conditioning stint.
He didn’t sparkle statistically in his debut – Street and the Heat got to him for five goals on just 24 shots, which works out to a .792 save percentage.
“It’s fun when you’re playing a world-class goalie,” said Street, who has racked up seven goals and five assists during his recent scoring splurge. “It was pretty cool – obviously he’s in the media a lot, and a lot of coverage lately.
“We didn’t really know what to expect from him coming in . . . It’s always a good test for our guys when you’re playing a goalie of an NHL calibre.”
Street started the game on a line with Michael Ferland and Blair Jones, but the trio was on the ice for all three Barons goals as the hosts built a 3-1 lead in the second period. Markus Granlund had opened the scoring for the Heat with his sixth goal in nine games at 4:02 of the first, but OKC responded with tallies by Andrew Miller, C.J. Stretch and Denis Grebeshkov.
The Heat, though, struck for two power-play goals in 59 seconds, courtesy Ben Hanowski and Street, to knot the score midway through the middle frame.
Ryan Hamilton would restore the Barons’ lead at 14:11 of the second, but Street scored two goals 27 seconds apart early in the third, and Abbotsford hung on to win as goalie Joni Ortio improved to 7-0 on the season. He stopped 24 of 28 OKC shots.
“Tonight and last game (a 7-3 win over the Texas Stars), I didn’t feel like I played that well for most of the game, but I’m getting the bounces,” said Street, who finished the game flanked by Jones and Max Reinhart after his original line’s inauspicious start.
“Our line went down -3 pretty quickly, and we weren’t doing a great job of sorting out rushes . . . But we stuck with it and battled back, and it nice to get the win.”
The Heat improved their AHL-best record to 13-4-1 for 27 points, while their West Division rival Barons fell to 6-7-2 for 14 points.
“We haven’t had the perfect recipe every game,” Street said, reflecting on the Heat’s streak. “But the good thing about our group is, we feel if we stick with it, we have a chance to battle back and win.”
• Two ex-Heat players who were involved in last week’s trade between the NHL parent clubs, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, were in uniform for the Barons on Friday. Forward Roman Horak posted two assists and a +1 rating against his old team, while goalie Laurent Brossoit served as Bryzgalov’s backup.
• The Heat and Barons renew hostilities on Saturday at the Cox Convention Center (5 p.m. Pacific time, CIVL 101.7 FM).