ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Matt Keith was not about to show Adirondack Phantoms goaltender Johan Backlund any mercy.
Keith scored the decisive goal in a shootout as the Abbotsford Heat beat the Phantoms 3-2 in American Hockey League action Saturday.
Keith went in quickly on Backlund and beat him with a quick backhand deke, exploiting the fact that the Swedish goalie might not have been at 100 per cent.
Backlund was involved in a goalmouth collision with eight minutes left in regulation and stayed down on the ice for a few minutes.
“I knew the goalie had been shaken up a bit so I wanted to get him to move,” said Keith.
It was Abbotsford’s second 3-2 shootout win over the Phantoms in as many nights.
Abbotsford (18-17-5) is fourth in the North Division and has one two straight after suffering through a seven-game skid.
Adirondack (11-25-4) is in last place in the league and is winless in two games after winning four straight.
Keith and Ryan Stone had goals in regulation for Abbotsford.
Backlund stopped 28 shots.
Adirondack’s Michael Ryan scored a power-play goal giving him goals in five straight games. Ryan has six goals during that stretch, scoring in every game of 2011 thus far.
Mike Testwuide also scored for the Phantoms.
J.P. Lamoureux, who replaced Heat starter Leland Irving, made 11 saves and earned the win.
“J.P. came from a first-place team in the ECHL and believes in himself,” said Abbotsford coach Jim Playfair “Irving has allowed one bad goal each game (lately) and (having Lamoureux on the team creates) a challenge that we need.”
Lamoureux had a rude welcome to the game when Kevin Marshall took a few strides before running the netminder. Stefan Meyer took exception and dropped the gloves with Marshall. That was followed two more scraps in the next few minutes as Abbotsford attempted to get back in the game emotionally.
“Tonight we didn’t have a very good start so we had to drag ourselves into battle with a few fights,” Playfair said. “Individual preparation was lacking tonight and that’s what happens at the American League level and it’s why these players are here, to learn how to overcome that.”
Adirondack opened the scoring on a power-play 1:58 into the first period. Erik Gustafsson flipped the puck forward from his own blue-line and found Ryan, who beat Irving through his pads.
Testwuide put the Phantoms up 2-0 as he rushed down the right wing fired a strong wrist shot off the post and in at 6:30 of the second.
After the goal Lamoureux replaced Irving, who had made seven saves on nine shots.
The Heat got on the board at 15:15 of the second. Backlund stopped Brendan Mikkelson in on a partial breakaway, but Stone shovelled in the rebound. It was Stone’s second goal since returning to the Heat from the Calgary Flames.
Stone took a deflected slapshot off the face in the final minute of the second period and did return in the third.
Abbotsford tied the game 1:29 into the third with the teams playing four-on-four. Backlund stopped Cam Cunning’s shot, but the rebound came out to Keith who scored after getting two cracks at Backlund.
Adirondack head coach Joe Paterson had no explanation for his team’s collapse.
“A couple times (Abbotsford) came on but at the same time we didn’t get the puck through the neutral zone clean, a combination of their forechecking and us not getting the puck behind them,” Paterson said.