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Leivo's late power-play goal lifts Marlies past Heat
In a game where all the goals were scored on the power play, a late lapse in discipline cost the Abbotsford Heat dearly against the Toronto Marlies.
With the score tied 2-2 and less than five minutes remaining in the third period on Sunday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum, Heat winger Max Reinhart picked up a five-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct for a hit on Marlies forward Carter Ashton.
The Marlies converted on the ensuing man advantage – Peter Holland found Josh Leivo with a backdoor pass and he beat Heat goalie Joni Ortio. And with Abbotsford shorthanded for the balance of regulation, that goal stood up as the game-winner.
The Marlies (38-20-5, 81 points) tightened their grip on first place in the North Division, while the Heat (35-24-7, 77 points) are second in the West Division and fifth in the Western Conference.
Toronto's Jerry D'Amigo and Heat defenceman Zach Davies – with his first career AHL goal – exchanged power-play markers in the first period of Sunday's game, which was broadcast nationwide on Sportsnet360.
Corey Locke, with his second goal in as many days, gave Abbotsford a 2-1 lead, scoring on a two-man advantage at 9:38 of the second period. But Ashton equalized just over four minutes later, and Leivo notched the go-ahead goal in the final frame.
Ortio was making his first start with the Heat since Feb. 16 – he'd been up with the Calgary Flames for over a month, making nine appearances in relief of the injured Karri Ramo and posting a 4-4 record, a 2.51 goals against average and a .891 save percentage. He stopped 26 of 29 shots vs. the Marlies.
The Heat wrap up their road trip with three games in three nights next weekend. They face the Utica Comets on Friday and Saturday, and return to Toronto for a Sunday rematch with the Marlies.