Returning home after a prosperous weekend in Texas, the Stockton Heat continued to find the back of the net, securing back-to-back wins for the first time this season by defeating the San Diego Gulls 4-0 Wednesday night.
After playing in nine contests with the Flames, centre Derek Grant picked up right where he left off when he departed Stockton three weeks ago, putting the Heat on the board late in the first period by tipping in a pass from Turner Elson. He promptly reclaimed the team-lead in goals by notching his fifth of the season from the high-slot with 6.8 seconds left in the game.
Goaltender Kevin Poulin stopped 21 shots to earn his first shutout of the season. Playing in his third game since being acquired by Calgary last Thursday, the Québécois proclaimed himself to be fully acclimated to the speed of the game.
"I felt a little rusty back in my first start, but tonight I felt pretty comfortable," Poulin said. "I’ve been practicing with the team all week and I feel good. The guys played really great in front of me. They cleared the front and blocked a lot of shots. I really don’t think [San Diego] had too many chances to score."
A San Diego own-goal claimed by Freddie Hamilton followed by an empty-net tally by Blair Riley in the third period provided breathing room. Stockton has now scored 13 goals in its last three games after scoring 15 in its previous eight.
"I’ve felt like we haven’t really been getting rewarded for our work we’ve had in some games this season," head coach Ryan Huska said. "A lot of bounces just weren’t going our way, but tonight our second goal was a fortunate bounce that gave us a little breathing room. It’s something that we felt like we deserved. Their goalie was playing really well tonight and you kind of had the feeling that one or two would be all you were going to get on him. It was that type of night."
Grant led the 39-shot barrage on the Ducks’ prized-prospect, goaltender John Gibson, with five. Continuing to be active from the point, defenceman Jakub Nakladal joined Bret Kulak and Hamilton with four shots.
It was the Heat’s first win in three attempts against the Anaheim affiliate this season. Stockton (4-5-0-2) will host the San Jose Barracuda on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. MT.