Going up against the stingiest defense in the American Hockey League on Saturday night, the Rockford IceHogs came back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Abbotsford Heat 3-2 at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
Entering Saturday's contest, Abbotsford had given up a league-low 58 goals on the campaign, a 2.07 goals against average, and the IceHogs were facing the AHL's second-best goaltender in Danny Taylor, who gives up an average of just 1.93 goals per game.
A couple of Krys Kolanos goals in the first period put the Heat up 2-0 nearing the end of the first frame, but the Hogs tallied at the 18:36 mark when Carter Hutton passed to Nick Leddy who found Ben Smith streaking into the Abbotsford zone. Smith found the puck and finished upstairs, over Taylor's left shoulder to bring the score to 2-1.
After a blank second period on both sides, Rockford found a spark 7:33 into the final stanza. Marcus Kruger hit Nick Leddy, who skated through the middle of the Abbotsford defensive zone and tied the contest at two apiece with his third lamp lighter on the year.
Less than five minutes later, with the puck behind the Abbotsford net, Brandon Saad passed to Brett Lebda at the blue line. Lebda found Brandon Pirri in front of the net, and he ripped a shot over Taylor's left shoulder to put the Hogs out in front 3-2.
Rockford was able to hang on the rest of the way to hand Abbotsford their third loss in a row, all against Midwest divisional opponents, while Rockford earned their 15th victory to keep pace in the tight Midwest race.
Hutton turned away 31 Abbotsford shots to pick up his 11th win on the campaign.
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