From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Saturday, February 12, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 5, Wolves 4 (SO)Official Box Score
Mark Cullen tied the game with 10:06 left in regulation, Houston didnt allow a shot in the third period, and Junior Lessard scored the deciding goal in the 10th round of the shootout, as the Aeros rallied from three goals down to earn a hard-fought 5-4 decision over the Chicago Wolves at Allstate Arena in the first of three straight meetings between the teams. Tonights victory snapped Houstons 11-game winless streak (0-6-3-2) in Chicago, dating back to January 15, 2003, and it marked the first time the Aeros have come back to win from more than two goals down since December 21, 2001.
Josh Harding made 17 saves, plus nine in the shootout, and All-Star Mikko Koivu and Marius Holtet scored seven seconds apart in the second period for Houston, which snapped a two-game skid (0-1-1-0). Todd Reirden scored later in the period for the Aeros, who had to kill off a controversial five-minute power play immediately following Cullens goal.
Houston moved into the All-Star break in fourth place with 52 points, breaking out of a tie with Grand Rapids and San Antonio. Third-place Cincinnati is four points up on the Aeros, who have five games in hand on the Ducks. The Aeros are off until next Friday and Saturday, when the Wolves come calling to Toyota Center in the next two editions of one of the best rivalries in the entire AHL.
The teams went to overtime for the 14th time in the last 24 meetings, including four of six overall and three of four in Chicago this season. For the third straight meeting between the teams, the losing team coughed up a multiple-goal lead.
Kip Brennan, Steve Maltais and Lonny Bohonos each scored a goal in a wild second period for Chicago, which had won two straight. Former Aero Travis Roche added a power play goal for the Wolves. Kari Lehtonen, battling strep throat, made nine saves in relief of Michael Garnett, who was injured when he took a skate to the upper body on Cullens game-tying goal. Garnett finished with 22 stops.
The game, already pushed back to 7:30 p.m. earlier this week due to an afternoon DePaul basketball game at Allstate Arena, didnt start until after 8 p.m. It didnt end until 10:55 p.m., and the crowd of nearly 15,000 was sent home breathless.
Chicago led 1-0 after one on Roches goal, and a wild second period saw each team score three times. The Wolves built a 3-0 lead, but were holding on 4-3 for dear life when the buzzer sounded. The final five goals were scored in a span of 4:39.
Brennan made the Aeros pay for a turnover early in the second, as he finished off a 3-on-2 on a feed from Brian Maloney for his seventh goal of the season third versus Houston. Brennan was playing just his second game this month after he got injured in a fight with the Aeros Derek Boogaard on January 29.
Maltais got loose in the low slot with 5:40 left in the second and backhanded a bouncing puck by Harding for his 14th goal fourth against Houston.
Houston got two goals within seven seconds one tick off the team record starting just 37 seconds later to get the comeback started.
Koivu got things underway at 14:57. With Boogaard, who started the play, cutting to the net, Kyle Wanvigs shot got blocked in front, and Koivu picked up the pieces for his 14th goal of the season. It marked the first of two assists for Wanvig.
Off the draw, Houston scored again seven seconds later. Holtet won a race to the puck after Chris Heid dumped it in, and the scrappy Norwegian ripped a shot past Garnett for his fourth goal first since December 18. Rickard Wallin began the play by winning the faceoff.
But Bohonos restored the lead to two goals with 3:22 left in the second. The puck came squirting from behind the net to Bohonos in the low circle, and he deposited it by Harding for his 10th of the season.
Reirden, celebrating his 699th professional game played, got a late goal with 1:01 remaining to get Houston back within one. The former Wolves defenseman grabbed a puck from Wanvig and snuck it just under the crossbar for his second goal.
Houston dominated the third period, outshooting the Wolves 11-0 to force overtime. It marked the second time in team history the Aeros havent allowed a shot in a period. The feat is even more impressive because Houston was shorthanded for five minutes.
Cullens eighth goal of the season tied the game at 4-4 at the 9:54 mark of the third. Pierre-Marc Bouchard sent a bouncing puck on net, and Garnett gave up the rebound to Cullen, who got it by the goalie.
But on the play, Garnett got hurt as Aeros captain Kirby Law, who was tripped up by a Chicago defenseman, got his skate up and hit the goalie in the neck. Garnetts helmet fell off, and Law was sent off for a major penalty and given a game misconduct. The goal counted, despite the fact the collision happened before the tally. Lehtonen, who missed the last three games with strep throat, was forced into duty.
At the time, Chicago was on its heels and had no shots in the third period, and the Wolves managed none on Harding against Houstons spectacular penalty killing unit.
In overtime, Lehtonen the No. 1 ranked goalie prospect in all of minor-league hockey stoned Aeros defenseman Patrick Traverse with his right pad on a 2-on-1. Later in the extra session, Lehtonen was able to reach behind and grab a Bouchard shot as it was about to cross the line.
Koivu began the shootout for Houston, but his good friend from Finland Lehtonen snagged the attempt with his glove. Then Cory Larose, the Wolves third former Aero, lost control of the puck before he could get a shot off.
In round two, Lehtonen swatted Bouchards attempt away, and Maltais ripped a shot wide. Next, defenseman Brent Burns shot got caught up in Lehtonens pads, and Bohonos snapped a shot over the crossbar.
Lessard went in round four, and he hit the goalpost after beating Lehtonen glove side. J.P. Vigier countered for Chicago and scored, pushing the puck under Hardings glove.
Holtet got the chance for Houston, and he beat Lehtonen glove side to keep the shootout going. Harding forced sudden death, getting a pad on Brad Larsens attempt. Larsen had a natural hat trick versus Harding and the Aeros 10 days ago.
In sudden death, Lehtonen again robbed Koivu, this time with his stick, and Harding made a pad save on Vigier, Chicagos leading scorer. In round seven, Lehtonen closed up the five-hole on Holtet, and Maltais hit the outside of the net.
Bouchard went for Houston leading off round eight, and Lehtonen made a stick save. The veteran Bohonos was up next, but he couldnt get the puck by the 20-year-old rookie. In round nine, Lehtonen made a blocker save on Burns backhand attempt, and Laroses attempt hit Hardings stick.
That left Lessard at 24 the youngest of the Aeros shootout quintet to go for Houston in round 10, and the Hobey Baker winner banked the puck in the net off Lehtonen. Larsens shot went wide, sealing the Aeros victory.
Despite the delay to the start, the Aeros came out ready to play, as Law hit the post just a minute in, bidding for his 14th goal of the season.
Roches power play goal with 8:36 left in the first provided the periods lone scoring. He took a feed from fellow former Aero Greg Hawgood and deposited a big slapshot by Harding for his third goal in the last 25 games and 10th overall.
The Aeros had killed off each of their last 15 shorthanded opportunities, and 28 of 29.
Houston finished 0-for-2 on the power play, while Chicago went 1-for-4.
The Aeros scratched Mark Rooneem, Dan Cavanaugh, Marc Cavosie and Christoph Brandner. John Erskine missed the game while serving game one of a two-game AHL suspension.
With Mike Smith again suffering the effects of the flu, the Aeros recalled Robert Gherson from UHL Quad City to back up Harding.
Roche has 10 goals this season, and he scored eight for the Aeros in 2003-04.
The team record of goals six seconds apart was set by David Oliver and Rob Valicevic November 29, 1997, in a 6-4 loss to Milwaukee.
The three goals scored by both teams in a span of 44 seconds tied the team record. Houstons Scott Arniel and Cincinnatis Doug MacDonald and Jeff Greenlaw set the mark originally on December 22, 1995.
The six goals in the second period were a season high for the Aeros. The old mark was five, with Utah scoring four, in a 5-3 loss to the Grizzlies on November 26.
Wanvig, Houstons leading scorer in 2003-04, notched his first multiple-point game this season.
Boogaards assist was his second of the season.
Twelve players had a point for Chicago, but none had more than one. Wanvig was the only player in the game with two points.
Houston hasnt won at Chicago in regulation since April 7, 2002.
In that December 21, 2001 game, Houston actually trailed Manitoba 4-0 in the first period before rallying for a 6-4 victory.
Heids assist was his first point since being recalled from ECHL Louisiana.
The Aeros got their 11th road win in their fourth try, bettering last seasons mark of 10 victories in just their 23rd game away from Toyota Center.
Houston also held Grand Rapids without a shot in the third period on March 23, 2003, at Van Andel Arena.
Houston improved to 3-3 in shootouts, while Chicago fell to 2-2.