From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Saturday, January 29, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 3, Wolves 2Official Box Score
Brent Burns snapped a tie with 50.7 seconds left in regulation and Josh Harding made a triumphant return to the lineup by making 17 saves, as the Houston Aeros rallied from two goals down to defeat the Chicago Wolves 3-2 in front of 9,590 at Toyota Center. Christoph Brandner, returning from a 16-game injury break, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard also scored goals for Houston, which moved to 44 points and into a fourth-place tie with Grand Rapids and San Antonio. Bouchard added an assist on Burns game-winner, and Kirby Law chipped in with two assists.
The Aeros travel to Chicago for a rematch Wednesday at 7 p.m. before playing host to first-place Milwaukee next Friday and Saturday at 7:35 p.m.
Harding allowed the first two shots by him, but stopped the final 17. He last played November 28 and missed the last two months following a Grade 3 concussion suffered at the end of a game versus Utah.
I dont think Ive ever been this scared in my life, said Harding. There were so many fans. The guys made nice shots and we picked it up. It shows how tight we are as a team.
Brad Larsen and Derek MacKenzie scored 28 seconds apart midway through the first period and Kari Lehtonen made 41 saves for Chicago, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.
Chicago, which scored on its first two shots, led 2-0 late in the second, a period that saw Houston come on and outshoot the Wolves 18-9.
Late in the second with Houston on the power play, Lehtonen held his ground with Kyle Wanvig bearing down on him in the crease.
After that man advantage, Brandner dove to a loose puck at the right doorstep and slid it by Lehtonen flat on his side with 1:47 left in the second. The tally, which followed shots by Ray Giroux and Junior Lessard, was Brandners fifth of the season first since November 23. Brandner had missed the last 16 games due to injury.
The Aeros rode that momentum and tied the game only 40 seconds into the third on the power play. Rickard Wallin, along the goal line by the left boards, threaded a perfect pass to Bouchard in the right circle. Bouchard wound up and ripped a shot top shelf over Lehtonen for his seventh goal of the season.
Houston peppered Lehtonen with shots six minutes in, but he stopped all comers, though Mikko Koiuvs shot squirted just wide.
Bouchard nearly put Houston ahead with two minutes left. His shot got through Lehtonen, who fell back and got the puck to a defenseman.
Bouchard set up Burns game-winner, his sixth of the season, with 50.7 seconds remaining. Bouchard, behind the net to the left side, slid a pass between the circles to a streaking Burns, who popped a shot high over Lehtonen.
The Aeros didnt allow Chicago a shot until the 7:57 mark of the first period, but that turned out to be a goal. Cory Larose, behind the net, fed Larsen between the circles, and an untouched Larsen who played juniors for Aeros head coach Todd McLellan ripped a shot low blocker side on Harding for his 15th goal of the season.
It took Chicago only 28 seconds and one more shot to build a two-goal advantage, as MacKenzie deposited a Brian Maloney pass by Harding for his eighth goal.
I want to thank the fans for all the e-mails and well-wishes, said Harding. I made a not too bad of a save a little later on, and they went crazy.
Its been a total roller coaster, Harding added. There were good days and bad days. The last three weeks I felt like myself again.
Houstons Koivu, trying for a point in his eighth straight game, had back-to-back chances with 8:25 left in the first. He initially rang a shot off the post, then Lehtonen stopped him from the low left circle.
Lehtonen was brilliant with 6:30 left, stacking the pads to rob Laws 2-on-1 attempt from the right circle.
The large crowd got to its feet with 3:49 in the first, as Houstons Derek Boogaard walloped Kip Brennan along the boards in front of Chicagos bench.
Lehtonen made three point-blank stops with the Aeros on the power play in the closing two minutes of the first.
Houston finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while Chicago went 0-for-1.
Houston allowed a goal on its lone shot against in the third period of its last game, Tuesday versus Milwaukee, meaning three straight shots eluded Aeros goalies.
Hardings appearance snapped Mike Smiths franchise-record of 19 straight games with an appearance.
Wanvig turned 24 today.
The Aeros have outshot their last three opponents 129-61 after outshooting the Wolves 44-19 tonight.