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Baertschi scores shootout winner as Heat edges Stars

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The Canadian Press
2/9/2014 1:27:25 AM
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ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- Abbotsford's Sven Baertschi is feeling confident now that the points are starting to come.

Baertschi extended his point streak to five games and scored the winner in a shootout as the Heat defeated the Texas Stars 3-2 in American Hockey League action Saturday night.

The Bern, Switzerland native was assigned to the Heat by the Calgary Flames on Dec. 12 and had struggled to put up points, but since being matched with Corey Locke and Josh Jooris, things have changed.

"It's nice to have points and everything but in the end you just want to play well," said Baertschi. "There were nights before where I felt I was playing really, really well but the points weren't there. In the end, if you get in that groove, you feel well and your game is going, then the points come automatic."

The Flames' 2011 first round choice had just four points in his first 14 games with the AHL affiliate, but has a goal and four helpers during his current streak.

"I think he's getting to that point in life . . . where it's time to make hay," said Heat head coach Troy Ward. "There's some resiliency in his game, there's a little bit of swagger in his step, and there's a little bit of confidence. But I also think it comes to a point where every player down here in the American league has to have the ability to say, 'That's enough. It's time for me to step forward."

With the shootout tied after six shooters apiece, Baertschi beat goalie Cristopher Nilstorp five-hole to give his team a 3-2 edge.

"When I looked at the goalie, he has really long legs," said Baertschi. "The move I try most of the time is to go between the legs and it worked out perfect, especially a goalie with big legs (because) they have to be very, very quick. I took advantage of that there."

Olivier Roy stopped Brett Ritchie to clinch the win. Roy made 36 saves through overtime for his third victory in five days.

"He was huge for us tonight and has been great the last few games," Baertschi said of his goalie. "It's awesome to see him come here, a new organization, and he was in the (ECHL). He gets a chance to come here and he's doing so well so we're all proud of him and we're glad he's playing so well."

Jooris and Derek Smith scored in regulation for Abbotsford (31-14-4), who has won five straight and is on a 6-0-2 run.

Hubert Labrie and Brett Ritchie replied for Texas (28-15-6), and Nilstorp made 27 saves.

The Heat crowded the front of their net and held the Stars' offensive leaders to one assist combined. Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour have an AHL-high 27 goals apiece and Chris Mueller is sixth with 21.

"They have some of the most skilled players in the league," said Smith. "When you can get a chance to pressure them, take away time and space, we did that. You can't let guys like Travis Morin and the best players in the league make plays."

The Stars have dropped their last three contests and trail first-place Abbotsford by four points in the Western Conference standings.

"We've had a good stretch the last two weeks and passed them in the standings," said Smith. "Now we want to make sure they're looking up at us for the rest of the year."

Corban Knight was issued a penalty for a face-off violation with three seconds to go in regulation and the Stars carried that power play into overtime. Sceviour had the best chance to end it quickly but Roy stayed square to extend the extra frame.

"It's an awful feeling, you don't want to be there," said Baertschi of the overtime penalty kill. "But our guys did a great job and our goalie was outstanding there so in the end it was a huge team effort to make sure it went to a shootout."

The game marked a battle of the league's top power-play units with Texas at 27.7 per cent efficiency with the man advantage. The Stars finished 0 for 5 and Abbotsford was 1 for 6.

"Guys were getting into shot lanes and blocking shots and when Roy had to he came up big," said Smith. "That save he made in overtime was obviously a game saver. But we did a good job clearing pucks too and when we got a chance to get it down we made sure it went the full 200."

Ritchie opened the scoring for the Stars at 10:22. After taking a feed from Jamie Oleksiak, Ritchie fired a wrist shot from the left face-off dot, beating Roy stick side for his 10th of the season.

The Heat scored twice in 57 seconds to take the lead early in the second period.

First, Ben Street won the draw back to Smith on a power play, and his shot beat Nilstorp top corner. Then Baertschi stole the puck at centre and fed Locke, who in turn found Jooris for a one-timer at 5:30.

"Playing with Locke and Josh has been a lot of fun," said Baertschi. "Locke made a great play today."

The Stars evened the game at 8:25. Maxime Fortunus's point shot was deflected by Labrie for his first goal of the year.

Abbotsford Heat (Photo: TSN.ca)

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(Photo: TSN.ca)
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