Official Box Score HOUSTON, Texas - Erik Westrum tallied a goal and an assist, Kirby Law and Josh Olson also scored and Roman Voloshenko chipped in two assists, as the Houston Aeros defeated the Manitoba Moose 3-2 at Toyota Center. Josh Harding made 20 saves in his first action in 12 days due to injury. The Aeros avenged a 3-2 shootout loss to the Moose on Friday.
Houston is 2-0-0-1 so far on a six-game homestand that continues Wednesday when the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights make their first trip to Toyota Center. Click here
Jozef Balej scored two goals and Wade Flaherty made 36 saves for Manitoba, which had won five in a row and nine of 10. Manitoba had also won six straight on the road, and six straight overall versus Houston.
The tone of the game was set early, when the Aeros’ checking line of Olson, Joel Ward and Bryan Lundbohm kept the puck in the Manitoba zone for 90 seconds.
The trip sparkplugged a solid defensive effort. Houston had outshot only three of its first 14 opponents - two by one shot each. Tonight, the Aeros finished with a 39-22 advantage in shots.
Westrum then got Houston on the board first, 6:15 into the game. With the Aeros on the power play, Kurtis Foster
ripped a shot from the center point. Flaherty made the initial save, and after he stopped Voloshenko’s rebound attempt, Westrum - from the right doorstep - flicked the puck into the net for his seventh of the season.
Balej answered back for Manitoba with 9:08 left in the first. Craig Darby carried the puck around the net from the left wing and left a centering feed for Jason Jaffray. Harding stopped Jaffray’s attempt - the Moose’s first of the night - but Balej snuck the rebound between Harding and the post.
Olson’s first goal as an Aero put Houston back on top just 71 seconds into the second period. He took a feed from Lundbohm in the low slot and slid the puck near side by Flaherty.
Shortly after Olson’s goal, Houston’s shot advantage was 20-4.
But again, Balej countered for the Moose. Jason Doig carried the puck into the zone on the left wing and fed Balej cross ice. Balej easily put the puck into the net for his second of the night and fifth of the season at 6:05.
The Law/Voloshenko/Westrum line, as it has done so often early in the season, connected again to give the Aeros a 3-2 lead with 7:42 remaining in the second. Westrum cycled the puck from the right corner to near the blueline and fed Voloshenko at the top of the right circle. Voloshenko skated in on Flaherty, faked a shot and slid a pass to a waiting Law in the left circle. Law’s one-time eluded Flaherty high blocker side for his ninth of the season - tying him with Voloshenko for the team lead.
Law collected his ninth goal in his 15th game tonight. In 2004-05, it took him 35 games to garner his ninth goal, on January 14, also against Manitoba. He actually scored goals nine and 10 that game.
Manitoba’s Rick Rypien blocked a shot at the blueline and skated in all alone on Harding with five seconds left in the second, but his breakaway shot went well wide.
Harding helped protect the lead with 13:58 left in regulation, when he pokechecked a low 2-on-1 attempt from Jaffray and Jimmy Roy.
Olson, Ward and Lundbohm again kept the puck pinned deep with less than two minutes left, so Flaherty couldn’t reach the bench until there was 1:22 remaining.
Harding made a save with seconds remaining, and defenseman Curtis Murphy swiped the puck out of the air and into the corner.
The Aeros finished 1-for-7 on the power play, while Manitoba went 0-for-4. Houston held the Moose off the board on the power play for the second straight meeting after allowing a power play goal in each of its first 13 games this season. Notes: The Aeros scratched Seamus Kotyk, Anders Myrvold, Colin Peters, Adam Courchaine, Mark Rooneem, Joey Tetarenko and Andrei Nazarov. The Aeros are 2-2-0-0 against teams with losing records, but 7-2-1-1 versus teams at or above the .500 mark. Westrum’s assist was the 100th of his AHL career. Houston has led after one period only twice in seven home games. Harding is 12-3-1 in his last 16 regular-season games. Manitoba finished with 22 shots, the lowest total against the Aeros this season. The previous low was 30, set twice, including the Moose on Friday. The Aeros improved to 6-1-1-1 in one-goal games, tying Hartford for the most such wins in the AHL. Houston improved to a perfect 9-0-0-0 when scoring three goals or more. The Aeros are winless at 0-4-1-1 when scoring two or fewer. Flaherty lost in regulation against the Aeros for the first time in his last six attempts (4-1-1).