Official Box Score HARTFORD, Conn. –
Hartford’s Ryan Callahan completed a hat trick with 1:50 gone in overtime after Houston’s Matt Foy tied the game with 36 seconds left in regulation, and Steve Valiquette made 42 saves, as the Hartford Wolf Pack downed the Houston Aeros 4-3 at Hartford Civic Center. Bryce Lampman added a goal and an assist for Hartford (26-17-3-0), which has won 10 of 11 and is in second place in the Atlantic Division.
Danny Irmen and Joel Ward also scored and Miroslav Kopriva made 24 saves for the Aeros (18-22-2-5), who return home Thursday after the All-Star break for the annual Chronicle in Education Kids Game at 11:05 a.m. Houston is 0-7-2-0 against the Eastern Conference since March 2005. The Aeros have lost eight straight one-goal games (0-5-2-1) and are 0-2-2-0 in their last four overall – all one-goal decisions.
Jarkko Immonen took a power play rebound off the end boards and tried to stuff inside the left post early on, but Kopriva pushed the shot wide.
Hartford capitalized on its next penalty, set up by a Houston too many men on the ice penalty. Callahan took a feed from Lauri Korpikoski in front of the net and beat Kopriva for his team-leading 27th goal –14th on the power play, at 10:31 of the first.
The Aeros have allowed the game’s first goal in 14 of their last 16 games, including nine straight overall and nine straight on the road.
The Aeros haven’t scored the first goal in a game since January 7 against San Antonio. On the road, Houston hasn’t taken a 1-0 lead since December 14, the only game in a span of 13 road games the Aeros have broken on top early.
Houston’s Jason Morgan got in alone shorthanded early in the second, when Irmen threw him a blind pass from the right wing boards. But Valiquette made the save with his body and covered up.
That stop turned out to be huge, as Lampman’s fifth goal made it 2-0 at 2:27 of the second. Lampman stepped just across the blueline and fired a long shot that went under Kopriva.
Callahan beat Kopriva clean on the power play two minutes later, but Curtis Murphy came crashing in for Houston to scoot the puck back under Kopriva.
Irmen’s 14th of the season and third in two nights, with Houston on the power play, got the Aeros within 2-1 with 7:57 gone in the second. Erik Reitz, high in the left circle, hit Ben Thomson at the left doorstep. Thomson’s cross-crease pass hit a cutting Irmen, who tapped the puck into the open net.
Callahan’s second of the game and 28th of the season made it 3-1 with 1:47 left in the second. After Hartford took a too many men on the ice penalty to go shorthanded, Callahan faked a slapshot and instead sent a wrister by Kopriva.
Aeros defenseman Shawn Belle got a breakaway early in the third and fired from between the circles, but Valiquette got a glove on the shot.
Ward got Houston within 3-2 with 6:22 remaining. Mattias Weinhandl hit Ward in the right circle. Ward skated behind the net with the puck, then came back to the right side, turned and fired a top-shelf shot by Valiquette for his sixth goal of the season.
Almost immediately, Houston got its fifth and final power play of the night after a cross checking call to Jake Taylor. Valiquette covered up Foy’s wraparound attempt on the Aeros’ best chance.
The Aeros outshot Hartford 24-8 in the third period, and their next to last attempt tied the game at 3-3 with 36 seconds left. Murphy, at the left point, shoveled a pass to Belle at the top of the right circle. Belle fired a shot that was headed wide of the left post, but Foy tipped the puck by Valiquette for his team-leading 18th goal of the season.
After Valiquette turned away the Houston rush in overtime, Hartford came back the other way, with Callahan ripping a rebound of a Immonen’s shot over a fallen Kopriva for his third of the game and 29th of the season.
Houston finished 1-for-5 on the power play, while Hartford went 1-for-5. Notes:Not dressing for the Aeros were Dieter Kochan, Peter Olvecky, Peter Ratchuk and Roman Voloshenko. With Kochan sidelined with a lower body injury, the Aeros signed 25-year-old Danbury, Conn., native Jared Waimon to back up Kopriva. Waimon helps run a hockey school near Hartford. Veteran winger Joey Tetarenko made his first appearance in 22 games. He missed the prior 21, first due to injury and then the veteran rule. Morgan played in his 600th career professional game. The Aeros dropped to 17-6-1-4 when scoring three or more goals. They are 1-16-1-1 when scoring two or fewer. Houston is 0-3-1-1 in its last five road games. The Aeros are 0-7-1-1 when goalie Josh Harding, currently on recall to NHL Minnesota, doesn’t see action in a game. Houston is 1-4-1-2 in its last eight games against Hartford, including a 0-2-1-1 mark in its last four trips to Connecticut. The Aeros are 6-8-2-5 in one-goal games. Houston’s last one-goal win was a 4-3 shootout decision at Chicago on December 27. The Aeros have only two non shootout one-goal wins, the last coming 3-2 at Iowa on November 9. After their first nine overtime games went to a shootout, the Aeros have seen two straight extra session games end in the five-minute period – both losses.