Mike Smith turned aside 32 shots for his third career shutout and Houstons second straight shutout, and Rickard Wallin and Marius Holtet (picture of Holtet, background, scoring first pro goal courtesy of Bob Levey
)scored 42 seconds apart late in the first period, as the Houston Aeros beat the Syracuse Crunch 3-0 at Toyota Center. Stephane Veilleux also scored for the Aeros, who have won three straight and have just one regulation loss in their last eight games (6-1-0-1).
Houston is back on the road Friday in Grand Rapids and Saturday in Milwaukee before another Family Day game Sunday at 5:05 p.m. versus the Edmonton Road Runners.
The Aeros, who shut out Grand Rapids 1-0 behind Josh Harding last night, havent allowed a goal the last 123 minutes, three seconds.
Pascal Leclaire made 40 saves for Syracuse, which is 0-3-0-1 in its last four and was shut out for its second straight game in Texas. San Antonio throttled the Crunch 5-0 Friday.
Houston, playing its third game in three nights but first at home, showed no signs of weariness in the opening period, outshooting Syracuse 17-9.
After several good chances on a pair of power plays in the first, Wallin and Holtet scored their first goals of the season 42 seconds apart to give Houston a 2-0 lead.
Wallin put Houston on top at 14:57. He took a pass on the left wing off the boards from Veilleux and skated in on Leclaire 2-on-1 with Matt Foy. Wallin kept the puck, snapping it top shelf short side past Leclare on Houstons 14th shot of the period.
Holtets first pro goal gave the Aeros a two-goal edge just 42 seconds later. Mark Cullen, behind the net, fed Holtet in the low right circle, and the 20-year-old rookie out of Norway ripped the puck past Leclaire at the 15:39 mark. The rookie had zero points in his first eight games.
The crowd got to its feet 3:30 into the second period, when second-year Aeros winger Derek Boogaard sent 518-game NHL veteran, Crunch captain and former Stanley Cup champion Jamie Pushor to the ice with three quick punches at center ice.
Houston was tested midway through the second, having to kill off 1:31 of a 5-on-3. But the Aeros penalty killers, who knocked down a five-minute major last night, held Syracuse to just two shots.
That momentum led to a third goal, Veilleuxs second in three games and team-best fourth of the season with 6:17 left in the second. Erik Reitz blast from the point was deflected wide of the net, but Foy tucked the rebound onto his stick and slid it to Veilleux at the left doorstop, and Veilleux didnt miss.
Boogaard, 6-foot-7, 270 pounds, fought Syracuses 6-foot-4, 240-pound Brandon Sugden 2:45 into the third in a true heavyweight bout. Boogaard sent Sugden to the ground with a roundhouse right after a two-minute battle.
That was all the excitement in the third period as the Aeros cruised to the victory. Syracuses best chance of the period came with 3:33 left, when Smith blocked Andre Lakos attempt from the lower right circle, then covered up the rebound.
Houston finished 0-for-5 on the power play, while Syracuse went 0-for-6. The Crunch is 5-of-63 on the power play this season, while the Aeros have killed off all 15 shorthanded chances during their three-game winning streak.
The Aeros last recorded back-to-back shutouts December 13 and 16 of last season, when Johan Holmqvist blanked San Antonio 4-0 and Norfolk 1-0.
This marks the second time in team history that Houston has shut out two straight opponents but with different goalies. The other time was January 7 and January 9, 1998. Ryan Bach shut out San Antonio 6-0, and then Frederic Chabot beat Milwaukee 4-0.
Houstons streak of seven-straight one-goal games was snapped one game shy of the franchise record.
Boogaard became the 20th player in team history with 250 penalty minutes in a career.
The Aeros have scored first in four of Smiths six starts, but in only one of Josh Hardings seven starts.
Houston has held its opponent off the board in the first period in four of the last five games after allowing at least one in each of its first eight games.
Syracuse has scored five first-period goals, third fewest in the AHL. Syracuse has also allowed 29 road goals, worst in the league.
Smith, who improved to 4-1-0, had his last shutout January 30 against Grand Rapids, making 24 saves.