AEROS 2, ADMIRALS 0
Official Box Score
Mike Smith made 33 saves for his second shutout, Stephane Veilleux extended his goal scoring streak to three games and Kirby Law tallied a goal and an assist, as the Houston Aeros returned from 13 days of pre-Christmas vacation with a workmanlike 2-0 win over the Norfolk Admirals at Toyota Center.
The Aeros improved to 2-2-1-0 on a season-long eight-game homestand that continues Saturday at 7:35 p.m. versus Norfolk on Teddy Bear Toss/Toy Drive/Santa Bobblehead Night.
Michael Leighton turned aside 32 shots for Norfolk, which fell to 1-5-0-0 in its last six. The Admirals began a four-game Texas road trip.
Veilleuxs three straight games with a goal tie his career-high, set February 3-6, 2003. Hes the first Aero this season to accomplish the feat. His 10 AHL goals are three off his career-high set last season. Veilleux has a four-game point streak overall, tied with several other teammates for the Aeros longest this season.
Houston showed no sign of rust, outshooting the Ads 15-6 in a penalty-free first and claiming a 1-0 lead.
Veilleux nearly scored with 6:30 remaining in the first, but his shot hit off the post. He avenged that miss with his team-best 10th of the season with 3:13 left. Dan Cavanaugh fed Veilleux along the left boards, and Veilleux eluded a check with a hesitation move, then decked Leighton down to the ground before slipping the puck by him. The goal was Veilleuxs fourth in the last three games.
The Admirals swung the momentum in their way in the second, outshooting Houston 14-3, thanks in part to two early power plays. Early on the first advantage, Smith made a great glove save with traffic in front.
With a minute left in the second and Norfolk circling, Smith swallowed Nick Kuipers rocket from the right circle.
Smith, who snapped a career-long-tying three-game losing streak, stopped all 13 shots sent his way in the third, and 27 total over the final 40 minutes.
Law gave him all the insurance hed need with 4:36 left, with his sixth of the season. Marc Cavosie sprung Law down the right wing on the power play, and on a 2-on-1 Laws rifle from the right circle was no match for Leighton.
Houston went 1-for-3 on the power play, while Norfolk finished 0-for-2.
Minnesota Wild general manager Doug Risebrough, assistant general manager/Aeros general manager Tom Lynn, Dallas Stars general manager Doug Armstrong and head coach Dave Tippett all watched the game. Wild assistant coach Mario Tremblay joined Aeros head coach Todd McLellan and assistant Matt Shaw on the bench.
Veilleux moved into sole possession of 15th place on the teams all-time points list with 103, one ahead of teammate Mark Cullen and Michael Maurice. Cam Stewart is 14th on the ledger with 108.
The Aeros have won four straight home regular season meetings with Norfolk.
Houston reached the double digit mark in shots in 15 of its last 16 periods prior to launching only four in the second.
Norfolk had allowed only 11 first-period goals, tied for the fewest in the AHL.
Smith is 8-2-0 when allowing zero or one goal in the first period, but hes 0-3-0 with a no decision when yielding two or more.
Aeros scratches were Josh Harding, Chris Heid, Ray Giroux, Christoph Brandner and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
Norfolk played without head coach Trent Yawney, enforcer Mike Brown and defenseman Jim Vandermeer, all suspended for their roles in a brawl Saturday versus Norfolk. Brown and Vandermeer are eligible to return Saturday, while Yawney has eight games remaining on his 10-game ban.
The Aeros have scored a first-period goal in each of its last five games, and in eight of nine.
Houston improved to 2-4-1-1 in mid-week (Monday-Thursday) games.
Five of Veilleuxs 10 goals have come in the first period. He has scored Houstons first goal seven times.
Cullen played in his 150th game with Houston.
The Aeros moved to 29 points, five shy of third-place Chicago with a game in hand. Houston is also three points clear of San Antonio.
Ironically, the Aeros shut out Norfolk (1-0) at Toyota Center exactly one year ago tonight.
Norfolk has scored two or fewer goals in six of seven games.
Smith tried for his second career empty-net goal twice. With 1:03 left, his shot sailed 15 feet wide resulting in icing; and a similar shot with 26.9 seconds left on the clock. Smith scored for ECHL Lexington in his 2002-03 rookie campaign.