From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 2, Road Runners 0Official Box Score
Mike Smith made 39 saves to notch his fourth shutout of the season in his new Aeros-record 16th straight appearance, as Houston snapped a two-game skid with a 2-0 win over the Edmonton Road Runners at Toyota Center. Mikko Koivu and John Erskine scored 1:05 apart midway through the first period for the Aeros, who travel to San Antonio to take on the Rampage at 7 p.m. Friday.
Houston returns home Saturday and Sunday to face the Grand Rapids Griffins. Saturday at 7:35 p.m. is Aeros Cap Night, while Sunday is a 5:05 p.m. Family Day.
The Aeros moved to 39 points, one back of the third-place triumvirate of Grand Rapids, Cincinnati and San Antonio.
Mike Morrison stopped 34 shots for Edmonton, which has lost six straight.
Smith, who has seen action in every game since November 26 due to an injury to Josh Harding, made 10 saves in the first period, 17 in the second and 12 in the third. Tonight marked his sixth career shutout, and it came after getting pulled after allowing three goals in 32 minutes of action Sunday versus Manitoba. Two of Smiths four shutouts this season have come after not finishing the previous game.
Smith became one of five Aeros goalies to record four in one season, and he moved into fifth place on the teams all-time list with four shutouts.
Smith was brilliant in the opening period, stopping a pair of breakaways first a shot off the stick of Toby Peterson 3:22 into the game.
Peterson hit the post nearly nine minutes in as the Aeros were desperately trying to get a line change after a lengthy shift. Houston did get the change eventually, and it led to Koivus ninth of the season and third in four games. Kyle Wanvig shed a check in the low right circle and burrowed his way to the net. Morrison made the save on him, but Koivu was there to tap the puck into the far side of the net.
The goal marked just the second time in eight games that Houston scored the first goal. It also extended Koivus point streak to four games (3-2=5), a career-best and tied for the longest point streak by an Aero this season.
Just 65 seconds later, Erskines second of the season made it 2-0. The massive Aeros defenseman caused a turnover at the blueline, took two steps into the zone and unleashed a furious shot on Morrison, who didnt have a chance. The blast lasered over Morrison high glove side.
Smith then made his best save of the period, less than two minutes later, as Edmontons leading scorer, Tony Salmelainen, got loose on a clear breakaway. Smith went to his stomach to make the save.
Edmonton put 17 shots on Smith in the second period, but he remained perfect. He robbed Salmelainen again 3:36 into the frame. With Morrison off for a delayed penalty, Salmelainen popped a rebound up into the air from the right circle. Smith lunged to catch the change-up as it started its arc to the ice.
In the third, the Road Runners came at Smith again, but he along with the defense took all comers.
A bit of luck nearly got Edmonton on the board early in the third, when Petersons centering attempt from the left point hit a stick near the circle and bounced off the top of the net.
Approaching the periods midway point, Smith stopped a point blast from Edmonton captain Dan Smith, and then moments later with the defense scrambling, he kicked out a Jarret Stoll attempt with his pads.
Houston went 0-for-3 on the power play, while Edmonton finished 0-for-3.
Aeros captain Kirby Law appeared in his 500th professional game and remained at 298 career AHL points.
Frederic Chabot held the old record of 15 straight games, set from December 8, 1999 to January 21, 2000.
Houston scored first for the 16th time this season, the second lowest total in the AHL. The Aeros moved to 13-2-1-0 when taking that early lead.
The Aeros finished a nine game stretch all against teams with winning records with a 3-6-0-0 mark.
Houston won for the second time in eight tries (2-6-0-0) at home versus the North Division.
Edmonton trailed after one period for only the ninth time in 42 games.
Erskines other goal came October 20 in Chicago more than 30 games ago. His two AHL goals tie his career-high, set in 2002-03 with Utah. He also had two goals with the Dallas Stars that season.
The Aeros scratched Harding, Erik Reitz, Christoph Brandner and Derek Boogaard. Harding missed his 14th straight game with a concussion suffered late in a November 28 game versus Utah.
Wanvigs assist was his first since December 18 against Norfolk.
Stephane Veilleux assisted on Koivus goal, increasing his team-best point total to 24 (13-11=24).
Houston won for just the second time in five home games (2-3-0-0) when not scoring a power play goal.
The Aeros are 9-4-0-0 when Koivu has a point.
Smiths 39 saves are the most hes had to make in any of his six shutouts.
Smith is one shutout behind Ryan Bach and Johan Holmqvist for third place on the teams all-time list. Derek Gustafson is second with six, while Chabot is the all-time leader with 18.