Andrew Crescenzi scored a goal and tallied two assists and Sean Backman scored twice to propel the Ontario Reign (29-13-3-1) past the Stockton Heat (20-20-1-2), 6-1, in front of a sellout crowd of 9,491 Wednesday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
In his return to Ontario, netminder Peter Budaj made 20 saves for his AHL-leading 27th win of the season.
“Everybody contributed to the win,” said Budaj. “A lot of guys scored goals and got points and that’s good for our team to get over that hump of three games that we lost. The guys played really great in front of me and that made my job much easier.”
Valentin Zykov opened the scoring in the first period on a Crescenzi feed and fired the puck past the glove of netminder Kevin Poulin at 11:37.
Drew Shore tied it up for Stockton with a shorthanded goal unassisted at 19:33. With the goal, Shore extended his point streak to five games (2-3=5).
In the middle stanza, Michael Mersch put the Reign up for good, taking a feed from Kurtis MacDermid and scoring a breakaway goal 26 seconds in.
Less than two minutes later, Paul Bissonnette made a clean pass to Crescenzi who fired the puck in for a 3-1 lead.
“First of all, it was good to get the points after a three-game skid,” said Crescenzi. “I think the team played well and my line mates helped me out with that.”
The Reign continued their onslaught and found success again at 19:34 of the same frame as Jordan Samuels-Thomas buried a one-timer past Poulin, stretching the lead to three goals.
Backman broke open the final period with a goal at 51 seconds assisted by Vincent LoVerde. LoVerde circled the zone and fired a pass through traffic to Backman in the right circle.
That signaled the end of the night for Poulin, as he finished with 24 stops on 29 chances before making his exit.
The goaltending change didn't stop the offensive onslaught. Backman scored again, catching the puck at the blue line and put it down to his stick for his 13th of the season.
Heat netminder Kent Simpson stepped in to finish the contest with four saves on five shots.
“This win is big. In seven game segments, we need to come out at least .500 or more and we started out 0-3 on this one so it’s good to get on the winning track and win a few more games to come ahead of that,” said Crescenzi.