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Aeros 3, Stars 2

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild
Aeros 3, Stars 2

Official Box Score

HOUSTON, Texas - Kirby Law scored his league-best 21st goal in his 500th AHL game and leading scorer Erik Westrum tallied a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to 10 games, as the Houston Aeros knocked off the Iowa Stars 3-2 in front of a season-high 7,271 fans at Toyota Center for their sixth straight victory and seventh in a row at home. Josh Harding made 26 saves, Patrick O’Sullivan added a goal and an assist and Matt Foy chipped in two helpers for Houston, which snapped Iowa’s league-best six-game winning streak.

Houston begins a brief two-game "road" trip - both games are in San Antonio - Saturday at SBC Center at 7 p.m. The Aeros are 24-8-1-1, their most victories ever after 34 games.

The Aeros have won six straight overall for the first time since December 5-17, 2003. They’ve won seven straight at Toyota Center since a 3-0 loss to Milwaukee on November 30. The seven-game home winning streak is the second-longest in team history, and the Aeros have outscored their opponents by a whopping 38-15 margin in that span. The longest home winning streak in team history is eight games, set from November 6-December 11, 1998, during the team’s Turner Cup championship season.

Houston has won 12 of 13 at home and is 15-2-1-1 at Toyota Center this season, 21-2-1-3 in the last 27 regular-season games there and 29-4-1-3 in the last 37.

Westrum has 16 points (4-12=16) in a 10-game point streak, the longest by an Aero since Brett Harkins in the 2000-01 season. Westrum’s run is tied for the fifth-longest run in the AHL this season. The longest streak is 14 games, set by Grand Rapids’ Jiri Hudler and Portland’s Corey Perry. Perry’s run is active. Westrum has 48 points (14-34=48) overall, three clear of Law (21-24=45), who became just the 11th active AHL player with 500 games played in the league. Law has goals in three straight games for the third time this season.

Former Aero Junior Lessard and Loui Eriksson each scored and Dan Ellis made 29 stops for Iowa, which had won four straight on the road.

Houston’s Joey Tetarenko, making his first appearance since November 30, nearly put Houston on top first with 12:12 left in the first. Bill Kinkel slid a left-to-right pass to a cutting Tetarenko in the low slot, but Ellis went post-to-post to make the save. Seconds later, Tetarenko had another golden chance from the right doorstep on a feed from Westrum, but Ellis made the stop.

Harding stoned former Aeros teammate Lessard after a step-through move one minute later.

Ellis made a juggling save of a Clayton Stoner grounder from the center point midway through the first, with Petr Taticek swatting away at the rebound.

The Aeros took just 21 seconds on their first power play of the night to crack the scoreboard. Ellis stopped Foy’s hard-angle shot from the left goal line, but the rebound caromed to Westrum in the right circle. Westrum settled the puck and sent a laser beam by Ellis for his 14th goal of the season.

With Iowa on the power play and 5:30 left in the first, Harding made a pair of outstanding saves with the Stars breaking in 4-on-1. That led to 1:23 of 5-on-3 time for Iowa, and Lessard wasted little time capitalizing. The 2004 Hobey Baker winner took a nifty feed from Jamie Johnson in the left circle and snapped a shot by Harding for his seventh goal of the season with 5:04 remaining in the first.

Law answered right back for Houston, helping the Aeros take a 2-1 lead with 3:16 left in the opening frame. Westrum headmanned a pass to Taticek up the right wing, Taticek threaded a cross-ice pass to Law in the left circle, and Law wound up and unleashed a furious one-timer into an open net before Ellis could recover. It marked Law’s AHL-best 21st goal of the season.

O’Sullivan’s 16th made it 3-1 Houston at 4:56 into the second. Rem Murray shoveled a pass just inside the blueline to a cutting O’Sullivan in the right wing. O’Sullivan caught the puck between his legs and roofed a shot from just outside the goal crease.

Harding kept it a two-goal lead with 5:20 left, with his team on the power play. Toby Peterson broke in on the left wing but Harding made a pad save. Mathias Tjarnqvist put the rebound on net, but Harding kicked the shot high up onto the netting.

The Stars got back-to-back power plays in the third period, and they scored on the second, getting within 3-2 with 9:52 remaining. Eriksson went five-hole on Harding from the right circle on a feed from Yan Stastny for his seventh of the season.

With the teams 4-on-4 with 8:21 left, Iowa’s Dan Jancevski got loose between the circles and fired, but Harding made the save with his chest.

The Stars went back on a controversial power play with 6:51 left. Mario Scalzo ran through Harding cutting to the net, but referee Brian Pochmara sent Erik Reitz off for roughing. But the Aeros killed off the penalty with ease.

Iowa pulled Ellis with 59 seconds left. Harding pushed a Lessard shot just wide, then ranged back over to get in front of a Scalzo rebound.

Ryan Stokes went off for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct with 37 seconds left, creating a 6-on-4 in the Houston zone. The Stars were offside with 18 ticks on the clock, but couldn’t get another shot off.

Houston finished 1-for-5 on the power play, while Iowa went 2-for-7. The Aeros were outscored on the power play for the first time in 12 games, since November 19 at Toronto.

  • Not dressing for the Aeros were Miroslav Kopriva, Adam Courchaine, Mark Rooneem, Peter Olvecky, Scott Ferguson and Andrei Nazarov.
  • Aeros rookie defenseman Colin Peters also played for the first time in nine games since November 30.
  • Houston was held scoreless in the third period, the first time it hasn’t scored in a period since December 11 in Cleveland. The Aeros had scored at least one goal in 16 straight stanzas, including eight with more than one goal.
  • Law has 12 points (7-5=12) in a six-game point streak, a season-high. Law has 11 goals in his last 10 games.
  • Foy has 10 points (2-8=10) in a five-game point streak, tying a career-high.
  • O’Sullivan has seven points (5-2=7) in a five-game point streak, tying a season-high.
  • Taticek’s four-game point streak (1-4=5) is a season-high.
  • Houston is 23-1-0-0 when scoring three or more goals.
  • Harding is 34-1-1 in his last 36 decisions when the Aeros score three or more goals in support of him.
  • The Aeros’ seven-game home winning streak is tied for the second-longest run of in the AHL the season. Milwaukee had an eight-game streak.
  • Nine of Westrum’s 14 goals have come on the power play.
  • The only larger crowd the Aeros have played in front of this season was in Rochester, which at 7,278 was just seven fans more.
  • Houston’s Josh Olson had his career-best five-game point streak snapped.
  • Houston is 13-1-0-0 when outshooting an opponent.
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