|Aeros 3, Admirals 2
| Official Box Score HOUSTON, Texas - Joel Ward and Patrick O’Sullivan scored 1:27 apart early in the first period, Bryan Lundbohm also scored and Miroslav Kopriva made 21 saves, as the Houston Aeros defeated the Milwaukee Admirals 3-2 in front of 7,367 on Houston Chronicle in Education Field Trip day at Toyota Center. Houston (35-12-1-2) increased its lead over second place Milwaukee (31-13-4-1) to six points by winning the Admirals’ final visit to Houston of the season. The Aeros make three more trips to Bradley Center, including back-to-back visits February 25-26.
The Aeros kick off a five-game road trip Friday in Manchester at 6:30 p.m. Houston, 22-4-1-2 at Toyota Center, plays 19 of its final 30 games on the road. The Aeros have put 44,948 fans in the stands in the last five games for an average of 8,890, and 30,191 in the last three contests for an average of 10,064.
Brandon Segal and Simon Gamache both scored and Brian Finley made 25 stops for Milwaukee, which fell to 9-2-2-0 in its last 13. Finley fell to 17-7-1 against the Aeros in his career.
Ward got things on the board with his third of the season, at 3:17, just 11 seconds after an early Aeros power play expired. Erik Reitz ripped a shot from the top of the right circle. Finley made the save and the puck came to Petr Taticek in the left circle. He touched a pass to Ward, who beat Finley near side.
Only 1:27 later, O’Sullivan’s 28th made it 2-0 Aeros. He stole the puck at the blueline and skated in on the right wing. O’Sullivan deked around a defender and lifted a quick wrister over Finley’s glove.
Milwaukee didn’t record its first shot until the 7:30 mark of the first, and Houston already had seven.
The Admirals scored on their second shot, with 9:19 left in the opening period. Sheldon Brookbank’s shot from the center point went just wide, but the puck bounced back into the low slot. Segal poked the puck just over the line before Kopriva could push it out for his 12th of the season and second in as many games.
Bidding for his second goal of the game, Ward redirected a Dustin Wood point bouncer just wide 4:30 into the second.
Lundbohm’s seventh goal of 2005-06 extended the advantage to 3-1 with 9:43 remaining in the second. Matt Foy raced in from the left point and picked off a weak clearing attempt in the circle. He got the puck to Lundbohm for the 2-on-0, and Lundbohm went low on Finley while getting upended by an Admirals defenseman. Lundbohm spent the first four seasons of his pro career with Milwaukee.
Kopriva made a diving recovery just after a Milwaukee power play expired with 6:15 left in the second, just deflecting a Rich Peverley look at a near open net.
Houston got 38 seconds of a 5-on-3 late in the second but couldn’t get the puck by Finley.
Long-time Aeros nemesis Gamache netted his third of the season to get Milwaukee again within one at 2:43 of the third period. Chris Durno stole the puck in the high slot and skated towards the net. Gamache took it off his teammates stick and slid the puck under Kopriva.
Two minutes later, Kopriva kicked out Segal’s 3-on-1 attempt from the left circle. He also snagged Zack Stortini’s floater from the left circle with 4:22 remaining in regulation.
Lundbohm had a breakaway chance to seal the victory with 2:20 left, but Finley made a pad save. Milwaukee’s Greg Classen hit the outside of the net on the other end 10 seconds later.
Milwaukee pulled Finley with 1:25 remaining, and Admirals head coach Claude Noel called timeout. Finley went back in after an offsides call, but was off again with 30 ticks left. The Admirals couldn’t get the equalizer past Kopriva.
Houston finished 0-for-6 on the power play, while Milwaukee went 0-for-4. The Admirals finished the season 0-for-19 with the man advantage at Toyota Center.
Notes: Not dressing for the Aeros were Josh Harding, Colin Peters, Peter Olvecky, Joey Tetarenko and Andrei Nazarov. Olvecky missed the second of four games from an AHL suspension stemming from a charging penalty last month in Peoria. The Aeros won for just the second time in eight games (2-6-0-0) when their top line of Erik Westrum, Kirby Law and Roman Voloshenko is held without a point. Westrum and Law had each had points in all of the Aeros’ last 16 home games. Houston has drawn 7,000 or more in each of its last five home games. The Aeros are 5-15-2-2 in the last 24 meetings since a 5-1 win October 17, 2004. Since beating Milwaukee 7-0 at Toyota Center January 11, 2005, the Aeros are 3-6-1-1 against the Admirals. Houston’s 35 wins through 50 games tie the 1998-99 team (35-8-7) for the most in team history. That squad claimed the Turner Cup. Milwaukee had won four straight road games. Houston improved to 15-4-1-2 in one-goal games. Milwaukee fell to 13-4-4-1. The teams combined for 115 penalty minutes in Milwaukee’s 6-5 shootout win Saturday, but there were just 12 minor penalties for 24 penalty minutes in this one.