|Wolves 4, Aeros 2
| Official Box Score ROSEMONT, Ill. – Pat Dwyer scored twice, Brian Maloney and Scott Barney added a goal apiece and Michael Garnett made 32 saves, as the Chicago Wolves knocked the Houston Aeros out of first place with a 4-2 victory at Allstate Arena. Chicago (28-30-3-8) kept its slim Calder Cup Playoffs hopes alive by moving to 67 points – nine shy of fourth-place Omaha with 11 games remaining. The Wolves snapped a five-game losing streak against Houston.
Scott Ferguson and Bill Kinkel each scored and Seamus Kotyk stopped 24 shots for Houston (45-20-2-3), which is winless in its last five (0-3-1-1) and fell one point behind Milwaukee for first place in the West. The Admirals won 4-1 in Manitoba tonight, but the Aeros have a game in hand. Houston had been in first place for 141 straight days since November 2. The Aeros are winless in five straight for the first time since an 0-5-1-0 stretch February 6-February 16, 2004 – more than two seasons ago.
Houston plays the third game of a five-game road trip Saturday in Iowa at 7 p.m.
Chicago struck first, at 6:06 of the first period, after an Aeros turnover deep in their own zone. Maloney deflected Tim Wedderburn’s right point shot over Kotyk for his 15th goal of the season.
But the Aeros, who outshot Chicago 16-7 in the first period, responded with Ferguson’s fourth goal of the season, with just 14 ticks on the clock. Patrick O’Sullivan won the faceoff to fellow rookie standout Roman Voloshenko, who dropped the puck to Ferguson at the blueline. The veteran defenseman hit a low shot that went off Garnett’s stick and into the net to tie the game.
Kotyk robbed Maloney’s shorthanded near breakaway early in the second, making a skate save.
Barney’s 25th goal of the season put Chicago back on top at the 7:09 mark. Former Aero Travis Roche fed Barney in the right circle, and Barney fired the puck by Kotyk.
Kinkel answered back with his third goal in 50 games this season, with 5:23 left in the second. Clayton Stoner let loose a shot off a Kirby Law feed, and Kinkel – positioned in front of Garnett – deflected the puck by Garnett.
It took the Wolves only 1:14 later to answer back, as Houston failed to clear the puck several times. Dwyer poked a rebound by Kotyk for his 15th goal.
The Aeros, who have been outscored 18-4 in the third period of their last 11 games, controlled much of the opening half of the third period, but they couldn’t solve Garnett again.
Dwyer’s second of the game and 16th of the season came with 5:19 left, when he converted an Aeros turnover in front of the cage into a goal for a 4-2 advantage.
The Aeros pulled Kotyk with less than three minutes left after a penalty to former Aeros winger Billy Tibbetts. Erik Reitz and Joel Ward picked up back-to-back minors late in the advantage, ending any comeback hopes.
Houston finished 0-for-4 on the power play, while Chicago went 1-for-6. The Aeros are 0-for-17 with the man advantage in their last four games, the longest streak of the season for the AHL’s second-ranked power play unit.
Notes: Not dressing for the Aeros were Colin Peters, Adam Courchaine, Brendan Bernakevitch and Andrei Nazarov. The Aeros fell to 7-16-0-1 when yielding four or more goals. Law increased his AHL points lead (37-59=96), while O’Sullivan continues to pace all AHL rookies with 81 points (42-39=81). O’Sullivan is just the 10th AHL rookie with 80 points since 1994-95. He’s tied with Steve Sullivan and Shane Willis for seventh place on the list. Steve Washburn is sixth with 83 points. Law’s 96 points are two behind Brian Wiseman’s second-highest total in the franchise annals. Wiseman also holds the team record of 109 points. Law has 62 goals in his two seasons in Houston, tied with Wiseman for fourth place on the team’s all-time list. Law has 145 points in the last two campaigns, tied with Greg Hawgood for the fifth-leading scorer in team history. O’Sullivan has 14 points (8-6=14), including three power play goals, in only seven games against Chicago this season. The Aeros, who lost 5-4 in a shootout to Omaha on Thursday, have dropped each of their last four games when playing the previous day since a 5-2 win at Milwaukee on February 26. Houston is a combined 14-10-2-1 in the second or third of back-to-back situations this season.