Back on the road after winning a pair of games at Stockton Arena last weekend, the Heat snapped a four-game point streak in a 6-1 loss to the Ontario Reign Friday night after suffering a 4-3 overtime defeat at the hands of the San Jose Barracuda.
Returning to a site at which they won eight days earlier, Stockton received a much stronger effort from the Pacific Division-leading Ontario Reign who outshot the Heat 35-24.
The Reign poured it on in the third period, in particular. Already up 3-1, The Kings affiliate notched three consecutive goals, including their second shorthanded tally of the night.
"Giving up two shorthanded goals in a game is unacceptable," head coach Ryan Huska said. "We just weren’t assertive enough as a team tonight. The end result shows that because when you play like that, you lose a game badly."
Reign goaltender Peter Budaj limited the Heat to less than two goals for the fourth time this season, making 23 saves in the win.
Playing in his second game after missing the prior six with an upper body injury, Drew Shore was the lone Heat player to solve the NHL veteran when he poked one past Budaj on the nearside of the crease late in the second period. Shore now has eight points over his past seven games.
"It was a really quick play where [Turner Elson] just put it on net and I got a stick on it behind the goalie and the net went off right after it," Shore said. "It was a weird play and I thought we were going to gain some momentum off of it, but it was a tough night."
Heat goaltender Kevin Poulin saw his first action since November 21 on Wednesday night against San Jose. Undefeated on the season coming into the contest, Poulin made 32 saves but surrendered the tying goal to Barclay Goodrow with 36 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
Poulin stopped a pair of shots before an odd-man rush led to a Nikolay Goldobin scoring opportunity that doomed the Heat three minutes into the extra-time period.
Selected as an AHL All-Star on Thursday, Derek Grant collected his 15th goal of the season in the second period to extend his point-streak to four games and give Stockton a two-goal advantage.
Morgan Klimchuk and Kenny Agostino gave the Heat a 2-0 lead in the first period with their second and seventh goals of the season, respectively. Like Grant, Agostino also pushed his point-streak to four games. The left winger was ready to quickly move on after the disparaging loss.
"You don’t have a choice," said Agostino. "We have to have a short memory. We played a pretty good game here tonight, but we have to be able to hold leads in this league. You can only control what we can control and we have to hold that lead."
The Heat (12-15-1-2) will return to action on Wednesday when they host the San Antonio Rampage for the first time this season. The opening puck is slated to drop at 8:00 p.m. MT.