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Aeros unbeaten streak at five
Week in review: HOU 2, UTA 1; HOU 2, SA 1; HOU 1, SA 1 (OT); HOU 3, CHI 3 (OT)
Houstons run towards the top of the West Division continued this week despite no fewer than 11 Aeros missing at least one game with the flu. Houston, which saw then second-leading scorer Rickard Wallin, miss three games, went 2-0-2 to run its unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2) overall and seven at home (6-0-1). The Aeros, who have just one loss in 12 games (9-1-2), enter this week's four games in six night stretch at 34 points, tied with Milwaukee for second place, two behind second-place Chicago and 10 behind first-place Grand Rapids.
The week finished Sunday as the Aeros battled back from two goals down to tie Chicago 3-3. Kyle Wanvig, a night after having his five-game goal streak snapped, rebounded to score a pair of power play goals, including the equalizer early in the third period. Matt Foy also scored and Johan Holmqvist turned aside 29 shots for the Aeros.
Jim Campbell had a goal and an assist and Frederic Cassivi was impressive with 33 saves for Chicago, which stays in town for a Tuesday matchup.
Sunday was Houstons second straight tie, a night after the Aeros left San Antonio with a 1-1 tie. The Rampages Travis Scott was the story, making 33 saves. Houstons Kyle Kettles was impressive in his own right, stopping 19 shots to run his unbeaten streak to three games (2-0-1). Houstons Zbynek Michalek and San Antonios Matt Dzieduszycki scored the games goals.
The Aeros began the three-in-three weekend by beating San Antonio 2-1 at Toyota Center in the opener of the home-and-home. Wanvig snapped a tie 5:57 into the third period for his third straight game-winner, while Jeff Hoggan also scored and Holmqvist made 27 saves. The victory put Houston at the .500 mark for the first time since November 2.
Houston went into the Christmas holiday with a 2-1 win in Utah on Tuesday. Kettles was impressive again with 26 saves, and Jason Marshall scored with 0.8 seconds left in the second period. Wanvig scored the deciding goal for Houston.
Justin Cox scored and rookie Dan Ellis was admirable in net with 38 saves for Utah.
TUE, HOU vs. CHI, 7:00 p.m.
KLOL Miss Conduct Bikini Contest, 2-for-1 center ice
The Aeros and Wolves meet in a rematch of Sundays 3-3 deadlock. The Aeros are 1-1-2 this season against Chicago, which is unbeaten in three (2-0-1) since a 1-6-0 stretch. The Wolves are led by veteran Steve Maltais (9g, 13a)
FRI, HOU at CIN, 6:35 p.m.
The Aeros and Ducks split a two-game set in Cincinnati before Christmas, with each team winning by a 2-1 margin. Ducks goalie Ilya Bryzgalov picked up his first ever win against the Aeros in the first game. Bryzgalov is 1-6-0 versus Houston.
SAT, HOU at CHI, 7:00 p.m.
Well see if familiarity breeds contempt, as the Aeros and Wolves meet for the third time in six days. Houston is 12-10-3-3 all-time in Chicago, including a 4-4-1-3 mark since the teams joined the AHL. Houston is winless (0-1-0-2) in the last three trips.
SUN, HOU vs. ROC, 5:00 p.m.
Trading Card Giveaway No. 2 (2,500)
The Americans make their only trip to Toyota Center this season. Houston and Rochester battled to a 2-2 tie November 26 in New York. The Aeros have won both matchups with the Amerks at home, outscoring Rochester 7-1 in the process. Houston is unbeaten in five all-time meetings (3-0-2-0), with the last three meetings all ending in ties.
Aeros tied for best record since Dec. 5 - Houston has 20 points since ending its eight-game winless streak December 5, tied with Bridgeport for the most points in the AHL since that time. Among West Division rivals, only Grand Rapids (14) has more than 10 points since that time.
Pair of milestones reached - Houston picked up the 400th win in franchise history Tuesday in Utah, then gave head coach Todd McLellan his 100th victory with the team Friday against San Antonio. At weeks end, the Aeros sport a 401-271-85-10 record all-time. McLellan, meanwhile, is 100-63-21-10 with the Aeros and 143-95-28-10 in his 3 1/2 year pro head coaching career, counting one season with IHL Cleveland. McLellan took just five more games (192) to pick up his 100th Aeros won than the only other man to accomplish the feat - Dallas Stars head coach Dave Tippett.
Special teams update -
The Aeros are 8-for-43 on the power play over their last seven games (18.6 percent), improving them to 11.1 percent overall. That has moved Houston up to 25th in the AHL in that category.
Houston has at least one power play goal in 10 of its last 12 games.
The Aeros have been on an unthinkable 216 power plays, or 6.4 per game. Houston, which also led the AHL in man advantages in 2002-03, have been on 25 more power plays than St. Johns, the next closest team. Amazingly, Houston has been on 102 more man advantages than in-state rival San Antonio. The Aeros are 25th in the AHL on the power play despite that fact that only 11 teams have more power play goals than the Aeros (24).
Opponents had been 1-for-22 on the power play in the last eight games prior to Sunday, when Chicago went 2-for-8 on the man advantage.
Houstons penalty kill rate of 88.1 percent is good for seventh in the AHL. The Aeros have given up just seven power-play goals at home (90.7 percent) - two though on Sunday.
Cough, cough - The Aeros used an astounding total of 24 players in four games last week, and Rickard Wallin didnt even play. Four call-ups saw action - Ben Storey, Maxime Fortunus and Ed McGrane (Louisiana) and Cory Morgan (Texas). Only 10 Aeros managed to play in each of the teams four games last week. Seven Aeros have played in each of the teams last 10 games.
Comings and goings - With Houston nearly at full strength, the Aeros released Cory Morgan before Sundays game. Morgan went back to ECHL Texas and had a goal and two assists yesterday in a 4-3 win over Mississippi. After Sundays game, the Aeros reassigned Ben Storey, Maxime Fortunus and Ed McGrane to Louisiana. Storey was the only one of the foursome to record a point, as he picked up an assist in Fridays 2-1 win over San Antonio.
Better numbers - In the season's first 22 games, Houston allowed a league-worst 3.36 goals per game. In the last 12 games, the Aeros are yielding just 1.42 goals per game. That stat has helped Houston improve from 28th in the league in goals against to its current place, tied for 18th with Manitoba (2.68).
No comeback - Houston is one of eight teams in the AHL to not record a win when trailing after two periods. The Aeros are 0-12-3-1 when trailing after 40 minutes, although they did pick up a point Sunday. Houston is one of five teams without a win when trailing after 20 minutes. The Aeros are 0-13-1-2 in such situations. Houston has trailed after the first period in 16 games this season, most in the AHL. Only a trio of teams have trailed more than 16 times after two periods.
Player of the week Kyle Wanvig -
Wanvig is by far the hottest Aero offensively, with seven goals in the last seven games and four goals in four games last week, including two game-winners and a game-tying goal...Career-best five-game goal streak was snapped Saturday, but rebounded with a pair of power-play goals Sunday, including the game-tying tally...Second in AHL with six game-winning goals, one off team record, and nearly halfway to all-time AHL record of 13, set by Hersheys Dunc Fisher in 1953-54.
Wanvig this week...
12/23 at UTA 1-0-1, E, GWG
12/26 vs. SAN 1-0-1, +1, GWG
12/27 at SAN 0-0-0, E
12/28 vs. CHI 2-0-2, E, GTG
Totals - 4gp, 4g, 0a, 4pts, +1
Aeros Practice schedule:
Monday - 10-11, Sugarland
Tuesday - Pre-game skate, vs. CHI 7 p.m.
Wednesday - 10-11, Sugarland
Thursday - Travel Day
Friday - at CIN 6:35 p.m.
Saturday - at CHI 7 p.m.
Sunday - vs. ROC 5 p.m.