Official Box Score MILWAUKEE, Wisc. –
Rookie Benoit Pouliot and Bryan Lundbohm each tallied a goal and an assist and Josh Harding
made 28 saves, as the Houston Aeros raced to a three-goal lead and held off the Milwaukee Admirals 4-2 at Bradley Center. Rookie Ben Thomson and Josh Olson also scored for Houston (7-7-0-1), which has won five straight road games, and four in a row overall and seven of nine to climb to the .500 mark for the first time this season. The Aeros, who moved into fourth place in the West with 15 points, play host to I-10 rival San Antonio at 7:35 p.m. Friday. Buy Friday Tickets
Rookie sensation Alexander Radulov and veteran Ramzi Abid each scored a goal and Karl Goehring made 24 stops for Milwaukee (5-5-0-1), which had its three-game winning streak snapped. The Admirals swept the Aeros in four games in the 2006 West Division Finals.
Milwaukee entered the game on the heels of an 8-1 win in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, but Harding and a solid defensive effort were too much. Harding had to make an average of 41 saves in each of his last three wins, but tonight Milwaukee fired just 30 shots.
Harding has now won four straight starts, with a 1.71 gaa and a .955 save pct in that span. He leads the AHL in games played (15), minutes (888) and saves (441) - 106 more than Manchester’s Jason LaBarbera. Harding has ascended the rankings to seventh in gaa (2.30) and fourth in save pct. (.928). He has played all but 21 minutes in goal this season, and is four games off Mike Smith’s team record for consecutive games played.
Pouliot, meanwhile, has five points (3-2=5) in his last three games, and six goals in his last seven games alone. He ranks 15th in the AHL in rookie scoring with 11 points (8-3=11).
Radulov, coming off a one-goal, five-assist performance Tuesday, got loose in the right circle on the power play five minutes in, but Harding made a pad save.
A minute later, Milwaukee hit the crossbar, and Pouliot raced out of the penalty box and ripped a slapshot just wide of the far post.
Thomson’s third goal of the season put Houston on top first, at 9:01 of the opening period. Pouliot took the puck from Peter Olvecky in the right circle and skated towards the net. Pouliot slid a drop pass to Thomson, cutting in from the left circle, and the fiery rookie popped the puck by Goehring.
Radulov nearly set up Cal O’Reilly for a power play goal later in the first, but O’Reilly couldn’t get a handle on the pass in the left circle.
Pouliot just missed on the power play later in the first. He took a nice pass from Erik Reitz in the low right circle and fired just wide.
Aeros winger Roman Voloshenko made a great move at point blank range on the power play late in the first, but Goehring stopped the shot while flat on his back.
Olson made it 2-0 at 4:37 of the second, just after an Aeros power play expired. Lundbohm, behind the net, fed Joel Ward in the right circle. Ward one-timed a beautiful pass to Olson’s stick at the left doorstep, and the Aeros winger tapped the puck into an open net for his fourth goal of the season.
Pouliot added his team-best eighth goal for a 3-0 advantage 10:04 into the second. He stole the puck deep in the Milwaukee zone and went one-on-one with Goehring. Pouliot ripped a shot that Goehring got a small piece of with his glove. The puck eventually trickled over the line.
Radulov ruined the shutout 2:09 into the third. He threw a seemingly harmless backhander on net from the left circle. The puck went off defenseman Clayton Stoner
’s skate – one of three Aeros in the low slot – and by Harding, for Radulov’s fifth goal of the season.
Pouliot took a 2-on-1 feed from Thomson less than a minute later and got a good shot off, but Goehring made the save with his chest.
Seconds later on the other end, Milwaukee hit post for the third time in the game.
Stoner avenged the skate mishap by diving to break up the Admirals’ shorthanded 3-on-1, seven minutes into the third. Just after that, Aeros rookie Alex Leavitt hit the post.
The Aeros then got 45 seconds of a 5-on-3, but couldn’t add to their lead.
Abid tallied his fourth goal to get Milwaukee within 3-2 with 9:42 remaining. Rich Peverley, behind the net, threaded a pass to an unmarked Abid cutting through the low slot, and the veteran found the open net.
Milwaukee took its timeout with 90 seconds remaining and pulled Goehring for the extra attacker. Lundbohm won the faceoff, and then stole the puck along the boards. He shot the puck from his own blueline into the empty net for his first goal of the season.
Houston finished 0-for-5 on the power play, while Milwaukee went 0-for-5. The Aeros have killed off 58-of-61 shorthanded chances in the last eight games. Notes:Not dressing for the Aeros were Steve Shields, Dieter Kochan, Ryan Stokes, John Scott and Ryan Hamilton. Winger Joey Tetarenko returned to the lineup after missing seven games, after the abdominal ball he was working out with exploded, sending him to the ground. Defenseman Peter Ratchuk, who took a head-first hit into boards against Toronto earlier this month, returned after missing three games and was a team-best plus-three. Prior to tonight, the Aeros had played with the same lineup in two straight games for the first time this season. Two referees worked the game – Chris Ciamaga and Rob Schick. Houston’s five straight road wins are the most since a season-best five-game streak from February 15-26 of last season. Aeros winger Matt Foy had a team season-best four-game point streak snapped. Seven of Houston’s last eight road games have been decided by one goal. The other game – last Friday in Iowa – ended 3-1 thanks to Olson’s empty-net goal. The Aeros are 5-3-0-1 overall in one-goal games. Harding is 4-2-0 in the regular season against Milwaukee. This is his lone victory that didn’t come via the shutout. Counting the post-season, Houston won for just the fourth time in its last 16 trips (4-10-2-0) to Bradley Center.