Official Box Score HAMILTON, Ont. – Josh Harding
made 36 saves and kicked out all three shootout attempts, as the Houston Aeros knocked off the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-2 at Copps Coliseum. Rookie Ben Thomson and Joel Ward each scored in regulation for the Aeros (4-7-0-1), who left Houston just after 6 a.m. today after last night’s 2-1 loss to Toronto. Houston, which surrendered the game’s final six power plays, continues a four-game road trip Thursday in Iowa at 7 p.m.
Andre Kostitsyn and Mathieu Roy provided a goal apiece and Yann Danis stopped 20 shots for Hamilton (4-6-0-1), which had won two straight.
A shootout appeared unlikely late in overtime, but Harding – who has played all but 21 minutes in the Aeros’ 12 games this season – wouldn’t let the game end.
The Bulldogs got their 10th and final power play with 2:22 left in the extra session, when Thomson went for hooking. Kostitsyn hit the post with an attempt for the game winner.
Harding rescued the Aeros with 40 seconds left, with Hamilton still on the power play. The Bulldogs broke in 3-on-1, and Maxim Lapierre sent a shot towards a seemingly open net, but Harding reached back with his stick to make the save. The goal judge even turned on the light in anticipation of the goal.
Aeros winger Roman Voloshenko led off in the shootout and went under Danis for his third goal in four shootout attempts. Corey Locke countered for Hamilton, and Harding made a pad save.
Matt Foy snapped a quick shot over Danis to give Houston a two-goal advantage, and Harding kicked out Kostitsyn’s shot.
Thomson scored five-hole on Danis, pushing Hamilton to the brink of elimination, and Roy shot over the crossbar.
Kostitsyn put Hamilton on top with his first goal of the season, with 6:20 left in the first. The 4-on-4 goal marked just the third time all season the Bulldogs have scored first.
Thomson evened things up for Houston with 1:45 remaining in the opening period. Shawn Belle set up Thomson in the low slot, and the diminutive rookie rocketed a shot high over Danis’ blocker for his second goal of the season and first since Opening Night.
Harding made a great save on Mikhail Grabovski’s backhander in the waning seconds of the first period, and then covered up the rebound.
The Aeros got a four-minute power play midway through the second when Lapierre elbowed Harding into the cage. Lapierre picked up a double minor for roughing.
Houston had a 4-on-1 during the power play, but Peter Olvecky couldn’t find the handle on a shot. Danis then turned away Curtis Murphy with his blocker.
Ward got his first goal of the season, at even strength, to give Houston a 2-1 lead with 7:21 left in the second. Ward and linemates Bryan Lundbohm and Josh Olson led a rush into the Hamilton zone on the right wing side. Ward deflected a Lundbohm pass by Danis.
The Bulldogs then got a two-man advantage for 1:37 after back-to-back penalties to rookie John Scott and Danny Irmen. Roy tied the game with 4:10 remaining with a blast from just inside the blueline to snap a streak of 29 consecutive power plays without a goal for the Bulldogs.
Hamilton outshot Houston 9-4 in a tight-checking third period, but neither team could find the net. Harding made several key stops in the final minute, with the Bulldogs swarming around the net.
Houston went 0-for-4 on the power play, while Hamilton finished 1-for-10. The Bulldogs had the game’s final six man advantages. There wasn’t a penalty called on Hamilton in the final 34:56. The Aeros have killed off 31-of-33 shorthanded chances in the last five games. Notes:Not dressing for the Aeros were Steve Shields, Dieter Kochan, Peter Ratchuk, Chris Ovington, Benoit Pouliot and Joey Tetarenko. Houston improved to 3-3-0-1 in one-goal games. The Aeros have played seven one-goal games, tied for the most in the AHL. The Aeros are 2-1 in shootouts. Houston was 1-5-0-0 in its last six trips to Canada. Fifteen of Houston’s 32 goals have come from rookies, including Thomson’ tally tonight. The Aeros are 3-1-0-1 when playing the second of back-to-back games. Harding has allowed just 14 goals in his last seven games. Ward hails from Toronto, less than an hour’s drive from Hamilton.