Director of Communications
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 4, Marlies 2 Official Box Score
Josh Harding posted a franchise-record 56 saves, including 26 in a frantic second period, and Erik Westrum (2-1=3) and Kirby Law (1-2=3) each posted three-point nights to reclaim the top two spots in the AHL points race, as the Houston Aeros knocked off the Toronto Marlies 4-2 at Toyota Center. Rookie Clayton Stoner added a goal and an assist and Curtis Murphy chipped in two helpers for the Aeros, who rebounded from a 6-5 loss to Grand Rapids on Friday to win for the ninth time in 10 games overall and for the eighth time in nine home games.
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Brad Leeb and Marc Moro each scored and Jean-Sebastien Aubin made 21 stops for the Marlies, who outshot the Aeros 58-25 but still had their three-game winning streak snapped.
Harding made 11 saves in the first period, 26 in the second and 19 in the third. He won his league-leading 21st game in improving his chances for an All-Star Game invite. Hardings previous mark for saves was 47, set October 14 in Peoria.
The Marlies set marks for shots in a game against Houston and shots in a period. Houston allowed 25 shots in the second period and 57 overall against Cleveland on October 5, 1995.
Westrum has 53 points (16-37=53), including a league-leading 37 assists, while Law (23-29=52) has an AHL-best 23 goals. They rank first and second in the AHL in points. Laws goal was the 200th of his pro career, and he extended his point streak to a season-best nine games (9-10=19). He became the 23rd player in team history with 100 points, and he is two goals shy of becoming the 13th with 50 goals.
Law fired a one-timer from the mid slot one minute in, but Aubin squeezed his pads to make the stop.
The Aeros got two full minutes of a 5-on-3 at the 12:26 mark. They were not without their chances on the advantage, but they scored just four seconds after it expired.
First, Westrum hit the post. Seconds later, Roman Voloshenko whistled a shot just wide, and Aubin then robbed him with a pad save. But Westrum broke through at 14:30 as Brad Brown and Mike Hoffman emerged from the box. Murphy, at the left point, slid a pass to Westrum just inside the right circle. Westrum fired a shot that got under Aubin for his 15th goal of the season.
The Aeros extended to a 2-0 lead with 2:44 left in the first, on Laws league-leading 23rd of the season. Westrum went coast-to-coast off a Stoner feed, and found himself in the left corner. He slid a long pass between defenders to a cutting Law in the right circle, and the Aeros captain went top shelf.
Leeb got Toronto on the board 43 seconds later. Tyler Beechey took a fortuitous bounce off the left wing boards, then slipped a feed to a streaking Leeb, who beat Harding for his 13th goal.
The Marlies controlled the second period, with the help of four power plays to one for the Aeros, but Harding was unbelievable, stopping all 26 shots sent his way.
Torontos John Pohl, Westrums teammate at the University of Minnesota, made a nifty catch on a clear breakaway 2:10 into the second but shot wide of the far post.
Harding made a great rebound save on Brett Engelhardt seven minutes into the second. A minute later, Harding snared Andy Wozniewskis blast from the right point.
The Marlies received 30 seconds of a two-man advantage midway through the second, but the Aeros killed it off.
Just 26 seconds into a tripping penalty to Engelhardt, Stoners fourth of the season extended Houstons advantage back to two goals. Rem Murray, along the goal line on the right side, fed a cutting Stoner between the circles. The rookie defenseman saw his first shot blocked by Aubin, but he stayed with it and found the back of the cage with 3:09 left in the second.
Peter Taticek also assisted on Stoners goal, extending his assist streak to eight games. Thats just one off Brian Wisemans team record, set November 23-December 12, 1997. Taticek was acquired on loan from the Florida Panthers organization in October.
A minute after Stoners tally, Houstons Matt Foy rang a right wing shot off the post.
Law went off for a high-sticking major 2:40 into the third.
Harding made three juggling stops less than a minute into the power play, including two from point-blank range. The Marlies ended the advantage with eight shots, but couldnt find the net.
Moros first goal of the season got Toronto within one less than a minute after the five-minute major expired. Moro got loose in the right circle and snuck a soft shot under Hardings pads.
Westrum pushed the advantage back to two goals with 8:12 left, on the power play. He rebounded a Murphy point shot under a sprawled Aubin for his 16th of the season.
The Marlies pulled Aubin with 1:43 left and got five more shots on Harding, who was perfect as he was for most of the evening.
Houston finished 2-for-4 on the power play, while Toronto went 0-for-5.
Not dressing for the Aeros were Bill Kinkel, Scott Ferguson, Joel Ward and Andrei Nazarov.
Murray has a season-long five-game point streak (2-4=6).
The Aeros are 26-2-0-0 when scoring three goals or more.
Houston has won 13 of 15 at home and is 16-3-1-1 at Toyota Center this season, 22-3-1-3 in the last 29 regular-season games there and 30-5-1-3 in the last 39 contests.
Voloshenko returned from the World Junior Championships and was a plus-two, but his seven-game point streak was snapped.
During the lengthy third period Toronto power play, Erik Reitz clearing attempt deflected off a stick and knocked down several panels off the Toyota Center scoreboard.
The teams combined for 36 shots in the second period for a team record for a home game. The old mark was 33, set five times, most recently in a 5-4 loss to Cleveland on January 14, 2000.
Westrum also put up two goals October 15 in Grand Rapids.
Westrum and Law share the team lead with six games with three or more points.
Murphy moved into a tie for second in the AHL among defensemen in scoring with 31 points (4-27=31). Hes tied for seventh among all players in assists.