|Rivermen 3, Aeros 0
| Official Box Score PEORIA, Illinois - Former NHL All-Star Patrick Lalime posted 33 saves and Ryan Ramsay’s goal 12 seconds into the second period gave him all the support he’d need, as the Peoria Rivermen defeated the Houston Aeros 3-0 at Carver Arena. Lee Stempniak and Troy Riddle also scored for Peoria, which has won six of seven, with the lone loss coming 5-1 at the hands of the Aeros on Saturday in Houston.
Seamus Kotyk made 24 stops for Houston (32-11-1-1), which has been blanked in each of its last two trips to Peoria. The Aeros lost for just the third time in 17 games, but their West Division lead remained at six points over Milwaukee, a 4-2 home loser to San Antonio tonight. Houston had won its last four games by a combined 18-3 margin.
Lalime had faced the Aeros twice this season, going 0-2-0 with a 7.00 gaa. He went the distance in a 7-2 loss at Toyota Center on December 17, and then got pulled after allowing four goals in Saturday’s defeat in Houston.
Peoria came out strong, getting the game’s first five shots, before the Aeros rebounded with the next five.
Houston had two great chances within a two-minute span in the second half of the first period. First, Lalime stacked the pads when Patrick O’Sullivan - the AHL’s leading rookie scorer - got loose in the right circle. With five minutes left, Josh Olson put a power play shot from the left doorstep behind the goalie but just wide.
Kotyk kicked out a Ramsay rebound attempt with 2:07 remaining in the first, drawing a penalty on the Rivermen forward for goaltender interference.
Ramsay got the Rivermen on the board just 12 seconds into the second - the fastest goal to start a period against the Aeros on road in team history. Kotyk turned aside Stempniak’s attempt from the low slot, and the puck squirted to Ramsay in the left circle. Ramsay threw a shot along the ice, and it went by Kotyk, who appeared to be screened by Scott Ferguson.
Stempniak’s eighth of the season and fifth in four games extended the advantage to 2-0 at 7:48 of the second. Mike Glumac picked off Erik Reitz’ pass from behind the net and centered a quick pass for a cutting Stempniak, who redirected the puck by a sprawled Kotyk.
Lalime made a great save as time was expiring in the second. Rem Murray won a faceoff with five seconds left, and after Peter Olvecky had a whack at the puck, Lalime just got a skate on Stoner’s rip from point-blank range.
Stoner just missed again in the opening minute of the second period, chipping a back-door pass from Kirby Law from the left point just wide.
Houston’s Colin Peters was whistled for slashing at 12:36 of the third period, stunting a possible comeback.
Lalime robbed Law with five minutes left, just after the Aeros killed off the Peters penalty.
The Aeros went on the power play with 3:47 left when Aaron MacKenzie slashed Law into Lalime, and Houston pulled Kotyk late in the man advantage. Riddle finished off the scoring with 1:27 left, after the power play expired. Aeros defenseman Curtis Murphy lost his stick, and Peoria broke in 2-on-1 on the empty net. 18:33
Houston went 0-for-4 on the power play, while Peoria finished 0-for-3. The Aeros have killed off 44-of-45 shorthanded chances over the last eight games since Grand Rapids went 5-for-10 on January 6.
Notes: Not dressing for the Aeros were Josh Harding, Joel Ward, Matt Foy, Joey Tetarenko and Andrei Nazarov. Aeros head coach Rob Daum returned after a three-game absence due to personal reasons. Milwaukee’s Wyatt Smith scored 19 seconds into a period against the Aeros at home on January 8, 2005. Peoria’s Jason Bacashihua, currently on injured reserve for the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, blanked the Aeros at Carver Arena on October 30. Law had his franchise-record 16-game point streak snapped. It was one off Portland’s Corey Perry’s AHL season-high. Erik Westrum had an eight-game point streak stopped, while O’Sullivan’s six-game run also came to an end. The Aeros lost for just the second time when outshooting an opponent (15-2-0-0). Houston had been outshot in eight of its last nine games. Houston had its four-game road winning streak snapped. It was just one victory away from the second-longest run in team history.