Heat forward Krys Kolanos battles with Oklahoma City Barons defenceman Andrew Martens on Saturday evening.

Heat forward Krys Kolanos battles with Oklahoma City Barons defenceman Andrew Martens on Saturday evening.

Win over Barons boosts Heat to first place

The Abbotsford Heat moved into top spot in the Western Conference with a 2-1 win over the Oklahoma City Barons.

The Abbotsford Heat moved into top spot in the Western Conference with a 2-1 win over the Oklahoma City Barons in Oklahoma on Saturday evening.

Danny Taylor continued his storybook season, making 32 saves on 33 Barons shots, while Jordan Henry picked up a pair of assists in the Heat’s AHL-leading 24th win of the season.

With the victory, the Heat (24-11-3-0) have 51 points in 38 games, which is one game fewer than the Barons and the Houston Aeros, who also sit with 51 points in the hotly contested West Division.

The Heat grabbed a first-period lead thanks to Justin Dowling’s first goal of the season at the 16:29 mark. Dowling, playing his first full professional season with Abbotsford, redirected a low point shot by Henry past Barons netminder Yann Danis.

The Barons got a fortunate bounce to knot the score in the second period, as Dylan Yeo’s shot went in off the skate of Heat forward Jon Rheault.

Rheault made amends in the third period. Ben Walter made an end-to-end rush and fed the puck to Rheault, who beat Danis with a short-side shot at the 7:33 mark of the final frame. It was Rheault’s 15th goal of the season.

The Heat’s league-leading penalty kill was a perfect five-for-five on Saturday, including a huge kill in the late going after Guillaume Desbiens was whistled for delay of game with 2:24 remaining.

The host Barons out-shot the Heat 33-15, but Taylor stood tall in the Abbotsford net.

The Heat and Barons renew hostilities on Sunday afternoon in OKC.