Official Box Score HOUSTON, Texas –
Miroslav Kopriva made 42 saves and was perfect on four shootout attempts, leading the Houston Aeros to a hard-earned 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals in front of 8,150 on Chronicle in Education First Flight Field Trip Day at Toyota Center. Roman Voloshenko and Curtis Murphy each scored regulation goals, and Voloshenko and Shawn Belle scored in the shootout for the Aeros (19-22-2-5), who had suffered four straight one-goal losses (0-2-2-0) and were 0-5-2-1 in their last eight one-goal games overall.
Houston drew within four points of fifth-place Peoria. The Aeros are in Milwaukee on Friday to complete the home-and-home, a day after combining for 98 penalty minutes – 66 by Houston. The Aeros won for the first time all season (1-7-1-1) when goalie Josh Harding
didn’t appear in a game. Harding was recalled by the NHL’s Minnesota Wild this morning.
Cal O’Reilly posted a goal and an assist, Chris Durno also scored and Pekka Rinne made 26 saves for Milwaukee (23-17-3-6), which moved within four points of second-place Omaha.
Houston’s Mattias Weinhandl had a partial breakaway on the power play in the opening minutes, but Rinne made a pad save.
The Aeros had a 2-on-0 breakaway nullified 6:14 into the game when Peter Ratchuk was called for hooking.
Houston nearly broke through, on the man advantage, midway through the first. Rinne turned aside Voloshenko’s blast from the right circle, and Ben Thomson knocked the rebound off the far post. Seconds later, Erik Reitz put a rebound wide of an open net.
Kopriva’s best save of the opening period came 12:47 in, when he swallowed up Mike Vigilante’s right circle shot.
After that whistle, Houston’s Ryan Stokes fought Kelsey Wilson. Stokes picked up an extra two minutes for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct.
A fracas happened behind Kopriva with 3:04 remaining, with all 10 players gathering after a hard hit into the boards. A five-minute delay ensued while referee Shaun Davis sorted things out, and the Admirals went on their fourth power play of the first period.
The teams combined for 74 penalty minutes in the first period – 48 alone by Houston.
After Houston killed off an early Milwaukee power play in the second, Voloshenko netted his ninth goal of the season to put Houston on top. Jason Morgan, in between the circles in transition, shoveled a pass to Voloshenko, whose quick wrister beat Rinne high glove side.
The Aeros scored the game’s first goal for the first time in 10 games, and for just the third time in 17 games. The Aeros hadn’t scored the first goal in a game since January 7 against San Antonio.
Milwaukee got 1:45 of a 5-on-3 within the next minute, but the Aeros were up to ask, killing their sixth and seventh chances in the opening half of the game.
The Admirals received another 1:11 of a two-man advantage with 6:46 left in the second, giving Milwaukee seven straight and eight of the game’s last nine power plays. Admirals head coach Claude Noel called a timeout to set up the 5-on-3. Reitz swatted a puck away as it was about to enter the net on the Ads’ best chance to score.
But the 5-on-3 time caught up to Houston.
Durno, who played last season for Milwaukee and was just reacquired this week, evened the score with a 5-on-3 goal 32 seconds into the third. O’Reilly, in the left corner, threw a cross ice pass to a cutting Durno in the right circle. Durno ripped a top shelf shot by Kopriva for his sixth goal overall this season.
Milwaukee’s Jason Guerriero rang a shot off the far post less than two minutes later, and seconds after that, Rinne kicked out a Matt Foy shot impressively.
Houston got a power play with 2:56 gone in the third, and Rinne gloved aside Belle’s drive from the high slot. Ratchuk then hit the crossbar from the left circle.
O’Reilly’s 10th goal gave Milwaukee its first lead, 2-1, with 7:02 remaining. O’Reilly tipped an Alex Henry left circle shot under Kopriva.
But the Aeros answered back immediately, getting Murphy’s sixth goal of the season to even the score 36 seconds later. Murphy took a Weinhandl feed, skated into the right circle and rifled a shot by Rinne.
Milwaukee got a power play with 6:03 remaining after Kopriva received a delay of game minor when the net came off its moorings. The Aeros penalty killers were again stellar.
Just after the man advantage expired, Foy caught Rinne out of the net, but the goalie recovered to get a skate on Foy’s wraparound.
Rinne also stopped Foy’s wraparound attempt 1:39 into overtime.
Kopriva made a shoulder save on Sheldon Brookbank’s right point blast a minute later.
Murphy nearly won the game with 1:15 left in the extra session, flipping a saucer pass just over the crossbar.
Kopriva made two great stops in the closing seconds, and Reitz flipped a floating puck in the vicinity of the net into the corner as time expired.
Aeros head coach Rob Daum had Milwaukee go first in the shootout, and Milwaukee leading scorer Rich Peverley led off. After juggling the puck coming across the blueline, he shot it and Kopriva made a pad save. Voloshenko countered for Houston and scored low on Rinne, improving to 6-for-13 in shootouts this season. Mikko Lehtonen
never got a shot off, as Kopriva dove out of the net with a pokecheck. Weinhandl made his patented forehand-to-backhand move, but didn’t get the puck off the ground and Rinne made the save.
Brandon Segal tried to go glove side, and Kopriva made a dynamite glove save. Shawn Belle scored five-hole, moving to 3-for-3 in shootouts.
Ramzi Abid was Milwaukee’s last chance, and Kopriva made the stick save.
Houston improved to 5-5 in shootouts, while Milwaukee fell to 2-6. The Admirals have played a league-high 18 extra session games.
Houston went 0-for-7 on the power play, while Milwaukee finished 1-for-13. The 13 power play opportunities were the most against the Aeros this season. Notes:Not dressing for the Aeros were Ryan Hamilton, Peter Olvecky and Joey Tetarenko. With Manny Fernandez out with an injury, Harding is expected to back up Niklas Backstrom tonight in Colorado. The Aeros moved to 18-6-1-4 when scoring three or more goals. They are 1-16-1-1 when scoring two or fewer. The Aeros are 7-8-2-5 in one-goal games. Prior to today, Houston’s last one-goal win was a 4-3 shootout decision at Chicago on December 27. The Aeros have only two non shootout one-goal wins, the last coming 3-2 at Iowa on November 9. Houston is 4-0 all-time on Chronicle in Education First Flight Field Trip games. The Aeros are an impressive 6-2-0-2 when allowing 40 or more shots.