From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
713.361.7930 (Direct Line)
Admirals 4, Aeros 1
Official Box Score
Andrew Hutchinson scored twice, Darren Haydar added a goal and three assists and Aero-killer Simon Gamache contributed four assists, all in a four-goal second period, as the Milwaukee Admirals shook off a slow start to beat the Houston Aeros 4-1 at Toyota Center. Brian Finley made 16 of his 31 saves in a frantic first period and Dan Hamhuis also scored for defending Calder Cup champion Milwaukee, which snapped a three-game losing streak and remained perfect in six games at Toyota Center in the past two seasons, outscoring Houston 26-10 in the process.
Brent Burns scored a power play goal and Mike Smith made 15 saves over two periods for Houston, which finished its season-long eight-game homestand 4-3-1-0. The Aeros failed in their fourth attempt to win a fourth straight game this season. Houston, which had 17 first-period shots but just 15 over the next 40 minutes, begins a three-game road trip Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Norfolk.
Burns scored 7:03 into the game, on the power play after Tony Hrkac whacked Dan Cavanaugh to the ground with a high stick. Junior Lessard, in the left circle, threaded a cross-ice pass to a streaking Burns down the right side, and the converted winger one-timed the puck past a recovering Finley for his fifth goal of the season. The tally was the third straight power play marker set up by the line of Lessard, Mikko Koivu and Rickard Wallin.
Houston appeared in prime position to make it a two-goal edge just before the periods midway point, but Kirby Laws point-blank attempt into a nearly open net was ruined when his stick shattered. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, playing for the first time since November 20, fed Law through traffic at the inside hash mark.
Later with Houston on the man advantage, Stephane Veilleux bidding for his sixth goal in as many games rang a Ray Giroux feed off the post. Giroux also returned off a month layoff.
The Aeros ended the first period with a 17-5 shot advantage.
Things changed dramatically in the second, as Milwaukee got three goals all from defensemen in the opening 11:53 and four overall.
Hutchinson scored twice in a span of 2:15 to put the Admirals ahead. His first goal, 4-on-4, was a wraparound that surprised Smith at 2:25, and he later deposited a Gamache feed from the high slot under Smiths pads for his seventh of the season.
Momentum appeared to shift in the Aeros favor with 9:21 gone in the second, when Milwaukee sparkplug Jordin Tootoo was ejected after an open-ice hit on Marius Holtet. No penalty was originally called on the play, but after a conference referee Dan ORourke sent Tootoo packing for a five-minute attempt to injure major, plus the game misconduct.
Instead, it was Milwaukee that answered the bell with the teams 4-on-4, as John Erskine was called for roughing after going after Tootoo with Holtet on the ice. Gamache stole the puck at center ice and fed Haydar along the right boards. Haydar slipped a pass to Hamhuis on the left wing, and the third-year pro ripped a shot by Smith for his sixth goal of the season.
The backbreaker came with 0.2 seconds left on the second-period clock, when Gamache fed Haydar for his 10th tally, completing four-point periods for each player and ending Smiths night.
The Aeros have allowed four goals in a period three times this season, each with Smith in net. Houston has allowed 19 goals in either the first of last two minutes of a period, while scoring only seven in that same span.
Gamache has 26 points (12-14=26) in 21 career games versus the Aeros.
Cavanaugh missed a near empty net on a 2-on-1 midway through the third as Houston attempted to come back.
Kyle Kettles made three third-period saves for Houston in his first AHL action of the season.
Houston went 1-for-7 on the power play, while Milwaukee finished 1-for-4. The Aeros went 12-for-43 with the man advantage on the homestand while killing off 28-of-31 shorthanded chances.
Smith played in his 50th AHL game. Veilleux saw action in Aeros game No. 199.
The Aeros scratched Josh Harding, Todd Reirden, Christoph Brandner and Derek Boogaard.
Finley (9-4-1) has more wins versus the Aeros than any active AHL netminder.
Houstons six-game home winless streak against the Admirals is its longest ever against them.
Erskines six penalty minutes moved him to 999 in his pro career.
Houston has scored a first-period goal in each of its last eight games, and in 11 of 12.
Smith had won three straight starts, one shy of his career-high, matched earlier this season.
Milwaukee has a league-high 21 power play goals on the road.
Lessard has a point in three straight games, a season-best for the rookie.
Aeros center Marc Cavosie had his three-game point streak snapped. It had tied his career-high.
Houston, which hasn't played a road game since November 24 in Chicago, leaves the Sugar Land Aerodrome just after 4 a.m. for its flight to Norfolk in the morning.