Dennis Wideman, Erkki Rajamaki, Mike Glumac and Peter Sejna each scored in the games first 13:21, and the red-hot Worcester IceCats held on for a 4-3 victory over the Houston Aeros at Centrum Centre. Jason Bacashihua made 25 saves for Worcester, which has won five straight overall and improved to 4-0-0-0 at home.
Stephane Veilleux, Christoph Brandner and Kirby Law all scored second-period goals for Houston, which had points in four straight games (3-0-0-1). Mike Smith stopped three-of-six shots before being replaced by Josh Harding, who finished with 15 saves. The Aeros end their season-long six-game road trip with contests in Grand Rapids Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m., before returning home for a Sunday Family Day game at 5:05 p.m. versus Syracuse.
Wideman, Glumac and Sejna each had a goal and an assist in the first-period spurt to seemingly put Worcester in the drivers seat.
Wideman, the reigning AHL Rookie of the Month, began things at the 2:00 mark, slapping the puck past Smith from just inside the blueline.
Rajamaki followed at 6:04, finishing off a 3-on-2, to make it a two-goal edge. Then with Derek Boogaard in the penalty box, Glumac banked a shot off a defender in front by Smith for his team-best fifth goal. The tally ended Smiths night.
Sejna made it 4-0 with 6:39 left in the first, camping out in the slot and popping a rebound of a Brendan Buckley shot by Harding for his third goal of the season.
At the time, Houston had only two shots. The Aeros started to put pressure on Bacashihua, who was Smiths goaltending-mate the past two seasons in Utah, and got the periods last five shots.
The pressure continued in the second period, as Houston dominated, outshooting Worcester 13-4 and scoring three times getting a shorthanded, power play and even strength goal. The IceCats entered the game with a 21-3 goal advantage this season from the second period on.
Veilleux got the Aeros on the board with a shorthanded goal 5:42 into the frame. The winger took a feed from Todd Reirden, eluded a defender and beat the netminder from the low circle for his second goal of the season. The goal snapped Houstons scoreless streak at 122:59.
Brandners power play goal made it 4-2 with 7:01 left in the middle period. With Blake Evans off for goaltender interference, Pierre-Marc Bouchard left a pass for Brandner, and the Austrians rifle through Mark Cullens screen beat Bacashihua for his second of the season. Cullen also got an assist on the play.
Exactly three minutes later, Laws third of the season cut the deficit to one. Marc Cavosie worked hard behind the net to get control of the puck, and the centerman fed Law on the doorstep, and the Aeros captain put the puck in the net. With a minute left in the period, Law hit the goal post.
Worcester clamped down early in the third, holding the Aeros without a shot for the first six minutes.
Cavosie had a great chance just past the midway point of the third, as he blasted a shot from outside the blueline that went of Bacashihuas chest and just wide of the net.
The Aeros pulled Harding with a minute left but couldnt get the equalizer despite holding the puck in the Worcester zone the entire time.
Both teams went 1-for-3 on the power play.
Houston has played five straight one-goal games (3-1-0-1).
Veilleux, who tied a franchise record with four shorthanded goals in 2003-04, notched the eighth of his career, breaking a second-place tie with Mark Lamb for second place on the Aeros all-time list. Mark Freer is the leader with 11. His eight shorties since 2001-02 are twice as many as any other Aero in that time span.
Veilleuxs goal also broke a third-place tie with Travis Roche and Curtis Murphy for third place on the Aeros AHL ledgers. Veilleux now has 36 goals with Houston, trailing only Cory Larose (50) and teammate Kyle Wanvig (47).
Bouchard has assisted on six of the Aeros 10 power play goals.
Reirdens assist marked his first point with Houston.
Former Aero Jeff Hoggan was held off the scoresheet.
Smith was pulled for the second time in his five starts. He has won the other three.
Law has six goals in 11 career games versus the IceCats.
Houstons scratches were Brent Burns, Marius Holtet, Mikko Koivu and Chris Heid.