|Stars 4, Aeros 3
| Official Box Score DES MOINES, Iowa – Jim Fahey snapped a tie midway through the third period against former Cleveland teammate Seamus Kotyk, and former Aeros Mike Smith (36 saves) and David Oliver (goal, assist) played big parts, as the Iowa Stars rallied from a two-goal, first-period deficit for a 4-3 victory over the Houston Aeros at Wells Fargo Arena. Toby Petersen and Loui Eriksson also scored for Iowa, which began the night eight points behind Omaha for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division.
Kirby Law had a goal and two assists to pad his league-leading point total to 99, Clayton Stoner and Roman Voloshenko scored power play goals 1:36 apart late in the first period, while Kotyk made 29 stops to drop his sixth straight start for Houston.
Houston (45-21-2-3) is winless in its last six (0-4-1-1) and is one point behind Milwaukee for first place in the West, with a game in hand. The Aeros are winless in six straight for the first time since an 0-5-1-0 stretch February 6-February 16, 2004 – more than two seasons ago.
Law has 99 points (38-61=99), one shy of becoming just the 95th player in the 70-season history of the American Hockey League to top the 100-point plateau. Just three players have reached that mark since 2000-01. Law is set to become just the second player in team history to reach 100 points. Brian Wiseman totaled a team-record 109 in the 1998-99 campaign.
Houston plays the fourth game of a five-game road trip Tuesday in Peoria at 7 p.m.
Kotyk stopped Krys Barch and Kyle Brodziak on two straight point-blank chances two minutes into the game.
The Aeros’ only shot of the opening half of the first period was Brendan Bernakevitch’s blast from outside the blueline with Houston shorthanded. The shots were 6-1 Iowa at that point, but 12-1 for the Aeros the rest of the period.
Houston started to hit its stride, with the help of a pair of power plays, including a five-minute advantage after Vojtech Polak ran Patrick O’Sullivan head first into the boards.
That penalty set up Stoner’s sixth goal – third on the power play – giving Houston a 1-0 lead with 4:54 left in the first. Law, in the left circle, fed Stoner at the top of the right circle, and the rookie defenseman one-timed the puck by Smith. In addition to the power play, Houston got an advantage when Oliver broke his stick on the play.
Kotyk stoned Petersen’s shorthanded breakaway midway through the advantage.
Seconds later, on the other end, Voloshenko notched his 33rd of the season – and his 20th on the power play to tie the team record. Law got the puck to Curtis Murphy in the low slot. Skating towards the right corner, Murphy flipped a pass to Voloshenko at the left doorstep, and the rookie winger deked Smith and got the puck by him with 3:18 left.
Petersen got Iowa within 2-1 at the 2:50 mark of the second, with Stoner in the box for charging. Oliver won the puck to Brodziak in a battle deep at the left wing boards, and Brodziak stepped in 2-on-1 with Petersen. Brodziak fed Petersen streaking in through the right circle, and he got the puck by an outstretched Kotyk for his 21st goal of the season.
Eriksson tied things up at the 8:16 mark. Mario Scalzo skated through the left circle and threw a behind the back pass to Eriksson in the right circle. Eriksson found the net for his 22nd goal of the season.
Smith made his best save of the night with eight minutes left in the second period, going on his side and reaching his glove up to snare O’Sullivan’s patented power-play rocket from the right circle.
The Aeros kept the game tied late in the second despite going down two men for 90 seconds. Just after the first penalty expired, Kotyk made a nifty glove save.
Oliver, a member of Houston’s 1999 Turner Cup championship team, gave Iowa its first lead with 1:19 remaining in the middle period. Oliver deked Erik Reitz to the ground in the right circle and lifted a backhander by Kotyk for his 17th goal of the season.
O’Sullivan had a 2-on-1 early in the third with Voloshenko, but Smith made the save with his chest.
Law netted his 38th goal and 99th point of the season at the 7:02 mark of the third period to tie the game with one of the craziest goals seen this season. Voloshenko had the puck behind the net, and as he maneuvered, the puck glanced off a defenseman’s stick straight up over the cage. Law, alone in front, poked the puck by a stunned Smith.
Less than two minutes later, Kotyk had to make a blocker save as Oliver busted in 2-on-1.
Fahey snapped the tie with his fourth goal of the season at the 8:57 mark. Fahey let a shot go from the left point with no one in front but four Aeros. The puck went off Kotyk’s glove and into the net, with Murphy screening the goalie’s view.
After Houston had to kill off a Matt Foy minor penalty, Iowa had a goal called off when Kotyk slid backwards with the puck just over the line, but referee Terry Koharski said Kotyk had control of the puck and he blew the whistle before the puck went into the net.
With Kotyk off for the extra attacker and less than a minute remaining, Smith covered up the puck in a wild scramble in front of the net.
Houston finished 2-for-6 on the power play, while Iowa went 1-for-5. The Aeros were 0-for-17 with the man advantage in their last four games, the longest streak of the season for the AHL’s second-ranked power play unit.
Notes: Not dressing for the Aeros were Colin Peters, Adam Courchaine, Josh Olson and Andrei Nazarov. The Aeros fell to 7-17-0-1 when yielding four or more goals. Law has 63 goals in his two seasons in Houston, in fourth place on the team’s all-time list. Law has 148 points in the last two campaigns, already making him the fifth-leading scorer in team history. The Aeros, who lost 4-2 in Chicago last night, have dropped each of their last five games when playing the previous day since a 5-2 win at Milwaukee on February 26. Houston is a combined 14-11-2-1 in the second or third of back-to-back situations this season. The Aeros are winless in a season-high five straight road games, their longest stretch since an 0-7-2-0 stretch January 31-February 26, 2004. Since beating Hamilton 3-2 on March 5 the Aeros are 3-1-0-0 against Chicago and 0-6-1-1 versus the remainder of the AHL. Houston is 2-10-1-2 on the road in the month the last two seasons, 4-12-1-3 the last three seasons and 7-17-1-3 since 2002-03. The Aeros had won their last six one-goal games before going 0-2-1-1 in their last four. Murphy has picked up 10 assists for $1000 in 13 games to go towards “Murphy’s Mission” to benefit I have a Dream. Houston lost in regulation for just the sixth time when scoring three goals (43-6-0-2).