From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Wolves 5, Aeros 3; Wolves win series 4-1Official Box Score
HOUSTON, Texas -
Brian Maloney snapped a tie with 1:50 left in regulation, as the Chicago Wolves rallied from two goals down for a series-clinching 5-3 victory over the Houston Aeros in Game 5 of the West Division Semifinals at Toyota Center. Tommi Santala and former Aero Cory Larose each supplied a goal and an assist and Brian Sipotz and Derek MacKenzie also scored for the Wolves, who won the last three games of the series all in Houston to advance to the West Division Finals. Kari Lehtonen finished with 26 saves for the Wolves.
Zbynek Michalek tallied a goal and an assist and Junior Lessard and Rickard Wallin each scored for Houston, which dropped to 0-5 in playoff games at Toyota Center. Josh Harding made 31 saves for the Aeros.
The teams combined for only 12 goals in the first four games of the series, but they scored eight tonight.
Lessard gave Houston its first lead since Game 2 last Thursday, with a spectacular individual effort at 11:04 of the first period. He took a pass along the boards from Kyle Wanvig, kicked the puck to himself between his legs, stepped around a defender and quickly fired a shot over Lehtonen high glove side.
The team to score first had won each of the first four games of the series.
Houstons Derek Boogaard one of the teams most effective forwards in the last two games was ejected from the game two minutes later when he was given a checking from behind major.
Harding made two great saves, and watched another shot ring off the post, before Larose whacked Todd Reirden with his stick to even things up. But, just 41 seconds later Houstons Brent Burns went off for tripping, giving the Wolves a 4-on-3.
Harding stoned Steve Maltais early in the advantage, as he snuck behind the defense and got a cross-ice pass at the right crease. Seconds later, Harding caught a deflected point shot off the stick of Joe Corvo.
After Larose got out of the box, Chicago tallied on the 5-on-3, with 3:29 left in the first. J.P. Vigier streaked up the left wing and hit a saucer pass to Larose at the right side of the net, and the former Aero banged it home for his first goal of the playoffs.
Houston built a two-goal lead in the opening eight minutes of the second, only to see the Wolves tie things up with the second goal counting as Harding was barreled over by a line of bodies in front of the net.
Michalek put Houston on top 2-1 just 24 seconds into the second, on the power play. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, along the right boards, fed Michalek at the center point, and the third-year defenseman blasted a shot under Lehtonen for his first of the post-season.
Wallins first goal of the playoffs put the Aeros on top 3-1 at 7:57 of the second. Kirby Law caught the puck in front of the net, walked to the right wing boards and fed Wallin between the circles. Wallin went high blocker side over Lehtonen for the goal.
The Wolves stormed back, scoring twice in a 23-second span past the periods midway point.
At 11:32, Larose fed the puck from behind the net to a streaking Santala in the left circle. Santala one-timed a shot past Harding for his second goal.
Chicago needed only 23 seconds to tie the game up, but it wasnt without a controversy. Sipotz unleashed a shot from the right point. The puck hit a body in front and barely rolled over the line just inside the far post, as Harding was rolled over by a pile of players.
Santala had a golden chance a minute into the third, but Harding kicked out the pad on his attempt from the low slot off a centering feed from Vigier.
Houston had a power play two minutes into the third after a fracas in the Wolves zone, but a minute through the advantage, Michalek snapped his stick in half on a one-timer, then played the puck for a minor penalty.
The Aeros almost immediately had to kill off another penalty, when Harding got a delay of game penalty.
The goalies took their turns at spectacular saves with just more than seven minutes left. First, Harding robbed Larose the former Aero on a breakaway. Seconds later on the other end, Matt Foy unleashed a low 2-on-1 squibber that Lehtonen caught under his pads.
Maloney grabbed the puck along the right wing boards, skated into the circle and fired high short side on Harding with 1:50 remaining for the game-winner. Karl Stewart raced to the goal line and left a puck for MacKenzie for the empty-netter.
Houston finished 1-for-5 on the power play, while Chicago went 2-for-7. The teams entered tonights game each 1-for-23 in the series with the man advantage. The Wolves became the first team to score two power play goals at Toyota Center since they accomplished the feat in a 4-3 overtime loss October 24. Houston allowed only 12 man-advantage goals at home this season.
The Aeros are 0-5 in the playoffs at Toyota Center.
The Aeros are 4-3 under Todd McLellan when facing elimination, with two straight losses.
Chicago has won the last three post-season series with the Aeros, having won the league championship following each of the last two victories.