TORONTO - Andre Deveaux fired his first career hat trick and the Toronto Marlies hung on for a 5-4 victory over the Houston Aeros in American Hockey League action Sunday night.
"I hadn't had one yet," said the six-foot-four, 217-pound Deveaux, who has five goals in seven games after scoring seven times in 66 contests with the Calder Cup-champion Chicago Wolves last season.
"It was unbelievable, the pucks were just going in for me today. It's never happened that way before, but in the end we got the two points and that's the main thing."
The Marlies led 4-1 midway through the game and were up 5-3 in the third period, but the Aeros refused to go quietly. The Marlies also left the door open with inconsistent defensive play, mediocre goaltending and a parade to the penalty box in the third period.
"You're happy with a win anytime, but the way we did it was unacceptable," said Marlies coach Greg Gilbert. "We put ourselves in a position to allow the opposition to come back."
Boyd Devereaux, with his first goal of the season, and Darryl Boyce also scored for the Marlies in front of 2,181 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.
Centre Tim Stapleton had two assists and left-winger Jiri Tlusty, in his second game with the Marlies since being demoted by the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, chipped in with a helper.
"This was probably Darryl Boyce's best game this season," Gilbert said. "That was the way he has to play to get back to where he was prior to his injury last year. That's the way he's always played, that's the way I've always known Darryl Boyce to play, hardnosed and gritty."
Boyce, who played 41 games with the Marlies in 2007-08, injured his shoulder in his first game up with the parent Maple Leafs last January and missed the rest of the season.
Aeros forward Danny Irmen scored with a short-handed tally while Marco Rosa, John Lammers and Maxim Noreau also scored.
Toronto improved to 3-3-1 on the season, while Houston dropped its third consecutive game to fall to 4-3-0 after opening 2008-09 with four straight victories.
Toronto was 2-for-6 on the power play, while Houston went 1-for-8 with the man advantage.
With neither netminder particularly busy or sharp, Marlies goalie Justin Pogge stopped 18 of 22 shots for the victory, while the Aeros' Nolan Schaefer made 17 saves.
Devereaux opened the scoring at 6:51 of the first, deflected Richard Petiot's slapshot from the point past Schaefer.
Three minutes later, the Aeros had a 2-on-1 short-handed break and converted when Irmen one-timed the puck past Pogge at 9:56.
Deveaux scored his first of the game, a power-play marker at 15:25 of the first, when he deflected Stapleton's point shot past Schaefer. It was a carbon-copy of Devereaux's goal earlier in the period.
"My game hasn't really changed, just going to the net hard," Deveaux said. "I'm getting some power play time and some opportunities and the pucks are going in."
Boyce and Deveaux scored 90 seconds apart early in the second period to spot the Marlies a 4-1 lead. Boyce chipped a centring pass from Mark Bell over Schaefer at 3:23, and Deveaux notched his second goal of the game at 4:53 when he ripped a slapper from the right faceoff circle over Schaefer's blocker.
The Aeros rallied with a pair of goals midway through the middle frame as Lammers deposited a loose puck at the side of the net past Pogge at 7:20 and Rosa scored from the goal-line when he squeezed a shot past Pogge's shoulder and the left goalpost at 11:02.
Deveaux gave Toronto a two-goal lead at 15:47 of the second, again on the power play, when he did the dirty work in the slot and banged a rebound past Schaefer.
At the end of the second period, Boyce took down Houston's Noreau in the only fight of a chippy and contested game. Boyce had levelled Aeros defenceman John Adams with a clean bodycheck, and Noreau stepped in to challenge the Marlies winger.
"I came out of the box and the guy didn't see me, I caught him with his head down and (Noreau) stuck up for him," Boyce said. "I'd do that for teammate, too."
Toronto captain Ben Ondrus had a chance to ice the game for Toronto early in the third period when he was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down on a breakaway at 4:04, but Schaefer denied Ondrus' high wrist shot.
Noreau pulled the Aeros within a goal at 11:18 of the final frame when his slapshot from the point beat a screened Pogge. Houston outshot Toronto 10-3 in the third and hit the post with about five minutes remaining, but couldn't score the equalizer.
The Marlies are off until Friday, when they travel to Rochester to face the Americans.
Notes: Pogge has started all seven games the Marlies have played this season. Backup Adam Munro has been limited to 29 minutes of mop-up duty in a 7-3 loss to Grand Rapids last Sunday. ... Toronto was without several regulars due to injury. Defenceman Staffon Kronwall and Josef Boumedienne and forwards Robbie Earl, Kyle Rogers and Bates Battaglia were all sidelined. ... Two of Houston's leading scorers, left-wingers Corey Locke (seven points) and Ryan Hamilton (five points), didn't dress for the Aeros.