HOUSTON - The Houston Aeros (18-15-4-1) finished its five-game in seven day stretch with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Abbotsford Heat (18-16-2-3) Sunday in front of 6,452 at Toyota Center. RW Danny Irmen forced overtime with a late third period goal, LW Robbie Earl and C Cody Almond also scored and G Anton Khudobin (9-11-1) made 38 saves in the loss. RW J.D. Watt scored two goals for the Heat, RW David Van der Gulik scored the game-winning goal in overtime and G Matt Keetley (6-4-1) made 18 saves in the win.
"Five-in-seven was a grind," said Head Coach Kevin Constantine. "I in many ways expected the game to look a little bit like this today and I think the point was very big, very big based on how deflated you’d be on giving up a 2 goal lead."
The Aeros tallied two goals on just four shots in the opening frame. The first occurred at the 13:42 mark when C Chad Rau found Earl in the low slot who fired a seeing-eye wrister through traffic past Keetley; RW Duncan Milroy was also credited with an assist on the power play goal. Houston notched a second power play marker at 17:49 off the stick of Almond. Off a D Maxim Noreau bid, J-M Daoust found Almond in space who fired a snap shot to the twine. The goal is Almond’s second of the season, second of his career and second in as many games. Daoust and Rau each extended point streaks to five games with the first period helpers.
Abbotsford responded in the second period with a pair of unanswered goals. LW Jason Jaffray broke free into the Aeros zone and deked Khudobin for an unassisted shorthanded goal at 15:43. The Heat then tied the game a little less than two minutes later off the stick of Watt at 17:40.
The Heat continued their charge in the final session when they took their first lead of the game at 7:15 off Watt’s second of the game. Watt beat Testwuide around the boards setting up a 1-on-1 with Khudobin where Watt beat the All-Star goaltender top shelf off the backhand. Late in the third, with Khudobin on the bench for the extra attacker, the Aeros would get the equalizer. C Nathan Smith took the puck behind the Heat cage and found Irmen at the far post for his ninth of the year at 18:47 sending the game to overtime
After a near miss in front of the Houston net which saw the puck trickling across the goal line, the Heat recovered setting up the game-winner. Van der Gulik tallied the overtime marker off helpers from C Brett Sutter and D Gord Baldwin.
Abbotsford out-shot the Aeros 42-21 on the evening, the most shots allowed by Houston this season. The Aeros recorded season lows of two shots in the second period and six shots through the first two frames. Houston finished 2-for-4 on the power-play, Abbotsford finished 0-for-4 on the man advantage and tallied their eighth shorthanded goal of the season.
The Aeros travel to Cedar Park Wednesday to take on Lone Star rival Texas Stars, 7:30 PM from Cedar Park Center. Houston returns home Friday to host the Rockford IceHogs, 7:35 PM at Toyota Center. Watch the games live on ahllive.com or listen on 1070 AM-KNTH. Follow the interactive in-game blog at aeros.com.