|Knights 5, Aeros 4 (SO)
| Official Box Score OMAHA, Neb. – Mark Giordano scored a power play goal and added the deciding sudden death shootout goal, and Brent Krahn made 34 saves, as the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights held off the Houston Aeros 5-4 at Omaha Civic Auditorium. Tomi Maki tallied a goal and an assist, Ajay Baines added a power play goal and Cam Cunning notched his first pro goal for Omaha (33-26-2-8), which won for the sixth time in seven games to open up an eight-point lead over Iowa for the fourth and final playoff spot out of the West Division.
Roman Voloshenko, Kirby Law and Peter Olvecky each posted a goal and an assist for Houston (45-19-2-3), which is winless in its last four (0-2-1-1) but gained a point to move back into sole possession of first place in the West with 95 points. Milwaukee is second with 94 but has played one more game. Matt Foy also scored, Bryan Lundbohm and Patrick O’Sullivan each added two assists and Miroslav Kopriva stopped 31 shots for the Aeros, who led 3-2 late in the second period and 4-3 with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation. The Aeros haven’t gone four straight games without a win since an 0-2-2-0 run March 28-April 9, 2004 – nearly two full seasons ago.
Five of the seven Houston/Omaha meetings this season have been decided by one goal, including one in overtime and three in a shootout.
Houston plays the second game of a five-game road trip Friday in Chicago at 7:35 p.m.
Law’s 37th goal of the season snapped Houston’s scoreless sequence at 137:41, just 4:09 into the game. Lundbohm, a part of the Aeros’ heralded checking line for much of the season but recently promoted to the top line with the departure of Erik Westrum and Rem Murray, began the play with a strong forecheck, causing the turnover. Voloshenko fed Law in the mid-slot, and the Aeros captain fired a slapshot by Krahn glove side. Law’s goal marked Houston’s first tally at even strength in 150:43.
Baines evened things up at 2:24 later, with Omaha on the power play after Shawn Belle took Baines down near the net. Baines deflected former Aero Steve Bancroft’s shot from the right point just over the goal line for his 12th goal of the season.
Kopriva made an outstanding save midway through the first and Omaha shorthanded. The Knights picked off a Curtis Murphy pass and it led to a 2-on-1, but a diving Kopriva pokechecked the puck away from Omaha leading scorer Giordano.
Giordano got his revenge with his team-leading 12th power play goal and 16th overall, with 32 seconds remaining in the first. With Ryan Stokes in the box for holding just three seconds after Houston had killed off a Lundbohm high-sticking penalty, Giordano took a drop pass from Maki and ripped it by Kopriva.
Houston launched the first six shots of the second period, and the final one – by Foy – evened things up. Olvecky won the faceoff in the right circle to O’Sullivan along the boards. O’Sullivan let loose of a wrister with a crush of bodies in front of the net, and Foy tipped the puck over Krahn for his 10th goal of the season.
The same line put the Aeros back on top, 3-2, with 4:30 left in the second. Olvecky had the puck in the right circle and got knocked down. O’Sullivan picked the puck up and carried it behind the net. He slid a pass to Olvecky just outside the crease. Olvecky popped the puck by Krahn for his 13th goal of the season.
But it took Omaha only 1:36 later to answer back and knot the score. Maki stole the puck just outside the Houston blueline and skated in on the left wing 2-on-1. He ripped a high shot from the circle that eluded Kopriva for his 12th goal – Omaha’s first even-strength goal of the game.
Voloshenko gave Houston the lead back at 4-3, with 9:26 left in regulation. Lundbohm skated in 2-on-2 with Voloshenko, but Omaha defenseman Zenith Komarniski fell down in the left circle. Lundbohm slid a pass to a cutting Voloshenko on the right wing, and the rookie winger found the net for his 32nd goal of the season.
Cunning evened the game at 4-4 with 6:07 remaining. The rookie picked up a Justin Taylor rebound and flipped it by Kopriva for his first pro goal.
O’Sullivan just missed the go-ahead goal for Houston a minute later, firing a wrister just over the crossbar with just the goalie in front of him.
The Knights got the third period’s lone power play with 3:52 left when Olvecky went for tripping, but Houston was able to kill off the penalty.
Omaha also got a power play 36 seconds into overtime, when O’Sullivan got caught up with a Knights player and was called for holding.
Taylor had a wide open net to shoot at with a redirection late in the power play, but he hit the outside of the cage.
Krahn robbed Foy with a super glove save from the left circle with 2:07 left in the extra session.
Houston went on a man advantage with 1:39 remaining. It was target practice on Krahn as the Knights couldn’t clear the zone, but Krahn was perfect.
O’Sullivan led off for the Aeros in the shootout and fired a shot wide. Maki countered for Omaha and just snuck the puck under Kopriva’s pads as it trickled over the line.
Law took the Aeros’ second shot, but Krahn made the pad save. Kopriva gloved away Komarniski’s attempt.
Voloshenko went in round three for Houston, and he banked a shot off Krahn’s pads and into the net to tie the shootout at 1. Giordano tried the give Omaha the lead back, but Kopriva got a glove on the defenseman’s attempt.
Foy undressed Krahn, but didn’t get the puck high enough to go over the goalie as Krahn made the save. Kopriva then stopped Richie Regehr.
Olvecky and Cunning each missed fifth round attempts, setting up sudden death.
Krahn gloved Voloshenko’s sixth-round attempt, and Giordano went top shelf on Kopriva for the game-winner.
Houston finished 0-for-4 on the power play, while Omaha went 2-for-6. The Aeros have gone three straight games without a power play goal for the first time this season. The Knights have scored six man advantage goals in the last two meetings.
Notes: Not dressing for the Aeros were Colin Peters, Adam Courchaine, Brendan Bernakevitch and Andrei Nazarov. Lundbohm snapped a 12-game point-less streak since posting five points (3-2=5) in a seven-game stretch in mid-February. The Aeros have now dropped three straight one-goal games after winning six in a row. Still, Houston is 21-6-2-3 in one-goal games and 28-10-2-3 in games decided by two goals or less. The Aeros fell to 43-5-0-2 when scoring three goals or more and 7-15-0-1 when yielding four or more. Law increased his AHL points lead (37-58=95), while O’Sullivan continues to pace all AHL rookies with 80 points (42-38=80). O’Sullivan is just the 10th AHL rookie with 80 points since 1994-95. He’s tied with Steve Guolla for ninth on that list. Law’s 37 goals are tied with Scott Arniel for the fifth most in any single season in team history. His 95 points are three behind Brian Wiseman’s second-highest total in the franchise annals. Wiseman also holds the team record of 109 points. Law has 62 goals in his two seasons in Houston, tied with Wiseman for fourth place on the team’s all-time list. Law has 144 points in the last two campaigns, already just one point behind Greg Hawgood for the fifth-leading scorer in team history.