From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Friday, February 18, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 5, Wolves 4Official Box Score
Kirby Law notched his fifth career hat trick and added an assist for a career-high-tying four points, as the Houston Aeros outlasted the Chicago Wolves in a wild 5-4 post All-Star affair at Toyota Center. Tonight marked the fourth straight one-goal game between the teams, and the sixth in seven meetings this season. The Aeros and Wolves go at their thrilling rivalry again Saturday at 7:35 p.m. on Luggage Tag Night.
Mark Cullen contributed three assists, Zbynek Michalek and Kyle Wanvig added a goal apiece and Pierre-Marc Bouchard chipped in two helpers for Houston, which has won two straight nail-biters over Chicago.
The Aeros moved to 54 points and within two points of third-place Cincinnati, a 3-0 home loser to Philadelphia tonight. Houston, at 24-19-4-2 a season-high five games over the .500 mark, has five games in hand on the Ducks. The Aeros also closed within 10 points of second-place Chicago with five games in hand.
Karl Stewart scored twice and Brad Larsen and former Aero Travis Roche each had a goal for Chicago, which lost in regulation for the first time in four games. The Wolves have played in eight straight one-goal games to tie a franchise record.
Josh Harding made 27 saves for Houston, while Michael Garnett countered with 36 stops for Chicago. Garnett had to leave last Saturdays meeting early after his neck and chin got bloodied in a freak collision with Law.
The teams tied the Aeros team record for combined goals in one period at home, set originally December 14, 1995, in a 7-5 loss to Kansas City. The team scoring first has lost two of the first six games in this seasons series. Tonights first period ended with Houston on top 4-3.
Roches 11th of the season got things going only 48 seconds into the game on Chicagos first shot. J.P. Vigier, at the left point, threw a perfect pass to a cutting Roche down the right side, and Roche tapped the puck past Harding.
Before the scoring began in earnest, Houstons Derek Boogaard battled it out with Kip Brennan at 1:29.
Houston scored twice in a 23-second span to take the lead. Michalek tied things up at 5:37, with his third of the season. Law kept the puck in with a hustling play at the right point. He chipped it to Cullen along the boards, and Cullen fed Michalek in the right circle. The defenseman ripped a shot top shelf by Garnett.
Wanvigs sixth, on the power play, followed 23 ticks later and gave Houston its first lead. Mikko Koivu, behind the net, fed Wanvig camped out in front, and Wanvig poked it past the netminder. Wanvig's 50th goal with Aeros ties him with current Wolves centerman Cory Larose for 10th on the all-time list
It didnt take Chicago long to answer back and tie the game, as Stewart scored at 6:32, just 32 seconds after Wanvigs goal. Lonny Bohonos, positioned behind the net, fed an unmarked Stewart between the circles, and the fiery winger tapped the puck by Harding for his 12th goal of the season. This is the second time in as many home games against Chicago that the Wolves have gotten their first two shots by Harding.
After a TV timeout, Laws 14th goal helped the Aeros reclaim the lead at 7:04 exactly 32 seconds, again, after the previous goal. Garnett made the initial save on Ray Girouxs point blast, but Law was there to corral the rebound and backhand it over the sprawled out netminder.
Laws second of the game and 15th of the season came 5:07 later and pushed Houstons lead to 4-2. Law finished off a 3-on-1 with Bouchard and Cullen, who notched his third helper in a seven-minute span.
Chicago rallied within a goal again 1:30 later at 13:41. Derek MacKenzie caused a turnover at the point, and he fed Bohonos on a 2-on-0 with Stewart, who finished it off for his second of the game and 13th of the season.
Cullen tied an Aeros record with three assists in the first period, and he and Law tied the team mark for most points in a frame.
Things cooled down in the second, but for a 52-second stretch midway through the period.
Law completed the hat trick at 7:51 of the second. Bouchard, behind the net, centered a no-look pass to Law streaking up the slot, and the Aeros captain went top shelf by Garnett for his 16th goal.
Only 52 seconds later, Larsen got the Wolves within 5-4. He skated out from behind the cage and unleashed a backhander while falling down for his 20th of the season.
Laws hat trick marked Houstons first since Wanvig did it October 28, 2003, against Cleveland. Laws last hat trick came February 9, 2003, against Syracuse, and his other four-point night was November 2, 2003, at Hershey. Both of those games were with Philadelphia.
With Chicago on the power play late in the second, Harding snagged Laroses attempt from between the circles with his glove.
The Aeros dominated the first half of the third period, before Chicago came on strong. The Wolves sent eight shots Hardings way in the final 20 minutes, but he stood tall.
Roche actually had Chicagos best chance, with 5:50 left, when he found himself alone at the left doorstep but ripped a shot over the crossbar.
Houston has allowed just 34 third-period goals this season, tied with Hartford and Manchester for tops in the league after both those teams yielded one tonight.
Houston finished 1-for-6 on the power play, while Chicago went 0-for-3. The Aeros have killed off 34-of-36 shorthanded chances over their last 10 games.
The Aeros scratched Erik Reitz, Dan Cavanaugh, Marc Cavosie and Christoph Brandner. John Erskine missed the game while serving game two of a two-game AHL suspension.
Houston defenseman Todd Reirden played in his 700th professional game.
Bouchard has 11 points (3-8=11) in just six games against Chicago.
Cullen's three assists leapfrogged him past Larose and into a ninth-place tie on the teams all-time list with 72.
The last time the Aeros were five games over the .500 mark was the final day of the 2002-03 championship season.
Houstons three straight home wins tie a season-high.
The Aeros improved to 9-16-2-2 when their opponent scores first, including a 4-8-0-1 home mark.
Chicago also played eight straight one-goal games from March 19-April 2, 2000. The Wolves, 3-4-0-1 in this streak, went 7-1-0-0 in that stretch.
Harding evened his mark at 10-10-1, improving to 10-7-1 since an 0-3-0 start.
Boogaards major was his 41st in two seasons, moving him within three of Trent Cull and Steve Jaques, who are tied for second on the teams all-time list.
Bouchard now leads the Aeros with nine multiple-point games, one more than Law and Stephane Veilleux.
Four of Wanvig six goals have come on the power play.
Michalek last scored November 28 against Utah.
Aeros second-year defenseman Chris Heid, in only his third game of the season, has assists in each of his last two games. He did that twice in his rookie season.
Wanvigs goal was also his 100th pro point 98 coming with the Aeros and two with Minnesota.
Law joined Koivu as the only Aeros with two goals in a period this season.
Larsen, coached in juniors by Houstons Todd McLellan, has five goals in seven games against Houston this season.