ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Facing elimination, Abbotsford Heat head coach Jim Playfair was looking for a better effort from his team and that’s exactly what he got on Friday night.
David Shantz turned aside 18 shots as the Heat stayed alive in the American Hockey League playoffs with a 3-1 win over Rochester Americans.
Garth Murray picked up a perfect no-look feed from John Lammers and one-timed a shot past Rochester netminder Tyler Plante near the midway point of the first for the eventual game-winner.
Abbotsford still trails the North Division semifinal 3-2, with Game 6 set for Sunday in Rochester.
“I think that’s the character we’ve talked about for a long time with our group,” said Playfair, who called out his veterans and goaltender earlier in the week. “They really came out, they were able to stick to the game plan for sixty minutes and they got a win out of it.
“They shouldn’t be surprised when they do things the right way and they work together. They can be a really good team.”
Abbotsford opened the scoring less than three minutes before Murray’s goal as Brett Sutter hit a streaking Jon Rheault, who slid the puck five-hole on Plante for his second of the playoffs.
Rochester cut Abbotsford’s lead in half as Shawn Matthias sent the puck to the front of the net, off Mike York’s skate, and between David Shantz’s pads at 13:04 of the first.
Rochester had scored 11 times in the second period in the series but were held at bay on Friday.
“I think their goalie played well and the team in front of them played well,” said York of Abbotsford’s play in the second. “They did a good job in their own zone and getting in on the forecheck.”
David Van Der Gulik added some insurance in the third for the Heat as he got around Mathieu Roy and beat Plante short side for his first of the playoffs.
Rochester thought they had a second goal with 1:42 remaining in the third but it was rule Jeff Taffe’s wrist shot hit the crossbar.
“It’s one of those things that’s kind of frustrating about the American League?how they don’t have a replay system,” Taffe said. “When the ref signals goal I think they should go with what he says not the two linesmen.”
Plante made 30 saves while suffering his first loss of the post-season.