From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Wednesday, April 6, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 5, Grizzlies 3Official Box Score
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah
Junior Lessard notched his first career two-goal game and Zbynek Michalek tied his career-high for points with a goal and two assists, as the Houston Aeros took over sole possession of third place in the West Division with a come-from-behind 5-3 win over the Utah Grizzlies at The E Center. Kirby Law also tallied a goal and two assists, Dan Cavanaugh added two helpers and Jeremy Reichs third-period goal went down as the game-winner for Houston, which used three power play goals to move to 85 points two ahead of Cincinnati, which lost 3-2 in Chicago tonight but has a game in hand. The Aeros, who have five games remaining, lead fifth-place Grand Rapids by five points, but the Griffins have two games in hand. The top four teams in the West make the Calder Cup playoffs.
Houston, which got 22 saves from Josh Harding, has won two of its first three games on a five-game road trip that continues with an important tilt Friday in Cincinnati at 6:35 p.m. The Aeros are 6-1-0-1 in their last eight games.
Eric Labelle, David Cornacchia and Kiel McLeod each scored and David LeNeveu stopped 33 shots for the Grizzlies, who are 1-2-1-1 in their last five.
The Aeros trailed 1-0 and 2-1, and Michaleks power-play goal midway through a dominating second period tied the game for the final time.
Houston dominated the second with a 16-5 shot advantage, and Michalek scored his sixth goal at 10:55. Ray Giroux fed Michalek at the left point, and the defenseman faked a slapshot, took two strides and wristed a shot just inside the near post and by LeNeveu for his fourth power play goal.
The Aeros had to kill off 1:48 of a Utah power play to begin the third, as Matt Foy picked up an unsportsmanlike minor and a 10-minute misconduct late in the second.
But Houston was successful, and Lessards second of the game and 11th of the season gave the Aeros their first lead at 4:11. Michaleks shot was knocked down by LeNeveu, but Lessard hopped on the rebound and slapped it by the goalie.
The Aeros got a full five minutes on the power play, including two minutes of a 5-on-3, as Mike Garrow went for holding and Frantisek Lukes was called for a high-sticking major at 7:19 of the third.
Just when it appeared Utah would get some momentum by killing it off, Reich tallied his third with the Aeros in less than a month. David Bararuks shot got hit to the ice by a defender in front of the net, and Reich ripped the rebound by LeNeveu for his seventh goal overall at 11:48.
Reichs goal turned out to be more than just insurance, as McLeod scored his 12th of the season sixth on the power play with Cavanaugh in the box for hooking with 5:43 remaining. McLeod hammered a centering pass from Peter White by Harding.
Houston finished 3-for-8 on the power play, while Utah went 2-for-5. The Aeros are 14-for-46 with the man advantage against Utah this season, while the Grizzlies entered the game just 2-for-34 on the power play versus the Aeros.
Utah pulled LeNeveu with 1:30 left, but Harding held the Grizzlies at bay and Law scored his team-best 25th goal fifth in six games into an empty net with 16 seconds remaining. Harding recovered from a two-goal first period to win his fourth straight start overall and improve to 4-0-0 against Utah this season.
The Grizzlies took only 4:03 into the game to get on the board, as a Houston turnover and a strong Utah forecheck led to a 2-on-0 and Labelles second goal.
After scoring first in five straight games, the Aeros have allowed the first goal in two straight.
Houston failed to score on two power plays immediately following the goal, but it knotted things up at 10:11 of the first. Michalek took a pass from Law and lofted a shot on net from the right point, and Lessard swatted it out of the air and past LeNeveu for his first of the game..
Utah answered back with 4:42 left in the first, with Foy in the box for holding. Cornacchia launched a shot from the blueline, and it hit an Aero in front of the net and went straight into the top of the net for his first goal in 24 games with the Grizzlies. Cornacchias goal began a string of five straight power play goals.
Harding hadnt allowed a first-period goal in the last five games. He had lost his last three starts when yielding a goal in the opening 20 minutes.
The Aeros scratched Erik Reitz, Mark Cullen, Marc Cavosie, Ryan Stokes, Stephane Veilleux, Todd Reirden, Christoph Brandner, Derek Boogaard, John Erskine and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
The Aeros have allowed 14 third-period goals in their last 10 games after yielding only 41 in their first 65 games.
Michaleks other three-point game came April 5, 2003, against Grand Rapids, when he tallied three assists. He picked up his third multiple-point game of the season. The last came March 12 in an 8-0 home rout of San Antonio.
Houston is 6-0-0-2 in its last eight meetings with Utah, and it went unbeaten in regulation at The E Center this season at 3-0-0-2.
The Aeros improved to 31-4-3-1 when scoring three or more goals. They are 6-23-3-4 when scoring two or less.
Houston has scored 41 goals in its last eight wins, but five in its last eight games (0-6-0-2).
The Aeros went 4-for-49 on the power play over their last 10 games, scoring only one more goal than they got tonight.