From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Sunday, April 24, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Wolves 2, Aeros 1; Wolves lead series 3-1Official Box Score
HOUSTON, Texas -
Kari Lehtonen made 34 saves, J.P. Vigier notched a goal and an assist and Steve Maltais power play goal with 4:22 left went down as the game-winner, as the Chicago Wolves defeated the Houston Aeros 2-1 in Game 4 of the West Division Semifinals at Toyota Center. Chicago can advance to the division finals with a victory Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. in Houston.
Mike Smith made 25 saves for Houston, which got a late goal from Matt Foy to draw within one goal.
Game 5 (C) is set for Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. It's an Aeros "Happy Hour" game. For $31, receive a center ice ticket (normally $28), free parking and $10 in Toyota Bucks. Or, for $16, get a corner seat (normally $20) and free parking. Click here
to order. Username is Happy, password is Hour.
Tonight marked the sixth time in seven meetings at Toyota Center this season that the teams played a one-goal game. Of the 423 minutes Houston and Chicago have played at Toyota Center, the game has been tied or separated by one goal 376 minutes.
The Aeros came out much quicker than Friday night, getting two good chances 90 seconds in. Todd Reirden pushed a shot just wide from the right circle, and Lehtonen put Ray Girouxs rebound attempt into the corner.
There was a 10-minute delay with 7:01 remaining, when referee Jeff Smith took a Brent Burns blast to the face. It came at a bad time for Houston, which was firing on all cylinders on a 5-on-3. He went to the locker room for stitches, and after 10 minutes, linesmen Sean Finn and Paul Wilkinson were in charge. Smith returned to begin the second period after 20-plus stitches.
Houston had four shots on the two-man advantage prior to the delay, but none after, and Chicago scored 1:43 later.
The Wolves broke out of the zone 3-on-2, and Lonny Bohonos hit Vigier on the left wing. Vigier skated into the left circle, and ripped a skidding shot that got under Smiths pads.
Houston outshot Chicago 12-11 in the second period with the help of back-to-back power plays, but it was the Wolves who had the best chance in the opening 10 minutes. Karl Stewart stepped around Zbynek Michalek to get a shorthanded chance, but his shot clanked off the far post.
Smith was great with Chicago on the power play with 5:33 left, swallowing up a Cory Larose blast from the left circle. Thirty seconds later, Larose hit the near post, and the puck slid all the way across the goal line before it was cleared away.
Lehtonen got his turn more than a minute later, as Mark Cullen tried to go short side with a backhander but was denied.
The Wolves took 11:20 of the third to get their first shot, but Lehtonen was perfect on the other end.
Houston had three golden chances with less than seven minutes remaining. First, Rickard Wallin pushed a Burns pass just wide from the low slot. Burns rebound attempt then went wide, and then Lehtonen recovered to block Burns shot from the low left circle.
The Aeros Junior Lessard went off bleeding from above his left eye seconds later after a high-stick, but the team remained 5-on-5.
Houston took a too many men on the ice penalty at 14:16 of the third, and that spelled defeat when Maltais took a cross-crease feed and beat Smith. The goal snapped an 0-for-42 streak for Chicago against Houston, and improved the Wolves to just 2-for-59 overall in their last nine games.
The goal proved costly for the Aeros, as with 2:40 left, Foy streaked in from the left wing and got a shot around Lehtonen for his first career post-season goal.
The Aeros pulled Smith with 1:30 left, and Lehtonen gloved aside Mikko Koivus shot from the center point with 28 ticks showing. Off the ensuing face-off, Houston got several bodies in front, but the puck didnt get to the line.
Houston went 0-for-4 on the power play, while Chicago finished 1-for-5.
The Aeros have lost four straight home post-season contests.
Houston is 1-4 after a home playoff loss since joining the AHL in 2001-02.
The Aeros are 0-2 in best-of-seven series when trailing 3-1.