From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Sunday, March 27, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 3, Griffins 2Official Box Score
Derek Boogaard scored his first career AHL goal in his 106th game, and Mike Smith made 30 saves, as the Houston Aeros moved into a third-place tie in the West Division by holding on for a 3-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins at Toyota Center. Kyle Wanvig scored 1:50 into the game and Kirby Law also had a goal for Houston, which has 77 points tied with Cincinnati with 10 games remaining. The Ducks, who come to Toyota Center on Wednesday to decide third place, for now, have a game in hand on the Aeros.
Niklas Kronwall and Tomas Kopecky each scored and Joey MacDonald, making his 17th straight start and appearing in his 24th straight game, turned aside 13 shots in two periods for Grand Rapids, which had won five straight. The Griffins fell two points behind the Aeros and Ducks, but they also have one game in hand on Houston.
Boogaard, the Aeros 6-foot-7, 270-pound winger, had missed the last three games and seven of the last 10 due to injury. He has a point in each of the last two games he has played, and he has three points (1-2=3) in his last five games for a total of five (1-4=5) in 53 games this season. He also garnered a fighting major and a minor penalty, giving him a team-high 247 penalty minutes.
Smith, who also picked up an assist on Wanvigs goal, made five saves in the first period, 16 in the second and nine in the third.
MacDonald, who made 47 saves Friday and had turned aside 93 shots in first two appearances at Toyota Center this season, was on his game a minute in, robbing Pierre-Marc Bouchard with his glove.
Houston took less than a minute after that to solve the goalie, getting Wanvigs 11th goal of the season at 1:50. Smith hit Wanvig with a long clearing pass up the right wing. Wanvig nearly lost the puck between the defenders crossing into the offensive zone, but he was able to slide the puck to Bouchard in the left circle. Bouchard one-timed a pass back to Wanvig at the right doorstep, and the winger banged it into the open net.
The Aeros have scored first in two straight games after allowing the first goal in nine of 10 games.
Grand Rapids, which went 17 minutes without a shot Friday, got five in the first, but it was Aeros centerman Marc Cavosie that came up with a huge save just seconds after Wanvigs goal, kicking the puck out of harm's way.
The Griffins then got 1:37 of 5-on-3 time, but Smith stopped the only shot sent his way.
With 4:44 left in the first and the teams 4-on-4, MacDonald just got a piece of a Ray Giroux offering from the low slot, knocking it barely over the net.
Boogaard made it 2-0 with 3:35 left in the first, with his first goal in 106 AHL games. After taking a high stick in the corner and getting knocked down, Boogaard skated to the front of the net. Brent Burns kept a clearing attempt in at the far point and wristed a shot on net. MacDonald made the original save, but the massive Boogaard was there to swipe the puck in the net as he fell to the ground, sending his teammates and the crowd into a frenzy.
"Seeing the reaction of the crowd and his teammates, it's easy to see what a big part of this hockey club he is," said Aeros head coach Todd McLellan.
Boogaards only other pro goal came with ECHL Louisiana on January 4, 2003.
The Griffins controlled much of the second period territorially with a 16-8 shot advantage, but Smith was unwavering.
Boogaard further enthralled the crowd 3:25 into the third with a fight that took awhile to develop. Peter Vandermeer, a veteran of more than 500 pro games and 3,000-plus penalty minutes, shoved Boogaard before a face-off, but play began. Seconds later, Boogaard was sent nearly over the boards in front of the Griffins bench by the combination of Vandermeer and Kopecky.
Boogaard whipped Vandermeer away from the bench, and the pair went toe-to-toe. In the middle of the bout, Boogaard landed no fewer than five consecutive rights to Vandermeer.
Smiths best save of the middle period came with 14:11 remaining, flying post-to-post to stone Brett Lebdas 2-on-1 one-timer.
Law pushed the advantage to three goals with 7:56 left in the second, stealing the puck, streaking in on the right wing and unleashing a furious slapshot that beat MacDonald high blocker side. The tally was Laws team-best 21st of the season.
All 10 players gathered in a scrum with 2:38 remaining in the second, action that ended with Houstons Mikko Koivu fighting former Nashville Predator Mark Eaton.
Drew MacIntyre replaced MacDonald to begin the third.
Moments after Smith found himself out of position but made a pair of great saves, Kronwall got Grand Rapids on the board with the teams 4-on-4 with 2:17 gone in the third. The puck squirted to Kronwall in the right circle, and he beat Smith far post for his 12th of the season.
After Dan Cavanaugh hit the post of an empty net with less than a minute remaining, Kopecky got the Griffins within a goal with 17.3 seconds remaining. Smith preserved the victory with a blocker save on Kopecky from center ice in the waning seconds.
Houston went 0-for-3 on the power play, while Grand Rapids finished 0-for-6.
The Aeros scratched Joey Tetarenko, Erik Reitz, Mark Cullen, Stephane Veilleux, David Bararuk, Patrick Traverse, Todd Reirden, Christoph Brandner and John Erskine.
Grand Rapids had won four straight road games.
Houston improved to 14-5-1-2 at home in March over its last three seasons.
Smith has two assists this season.
Bouchard has a three-game point streak (2-2=4).
Houston improved to 6-5-1-2 in one-goal home games, while Grand Rapid fell to an impressive 14-3-0-1 in one-goal road contests.