|Aeros 4, Wolves 0
| Official Box Score ROSEMONT, Illinois - Seamus Kotyk made 30 saves for his first shutout in more than two seasons, Erik Westrum posted two goals and an assist and Roman Voloshenko and Patrick O’Sullivan each added a goal and a helper, as the Houston Aeros knocked off the Chicago Wolves 4-0 for their first regulation win at Allstate Arena in their last 21 attempts. Kirby Law established a new franchise record with a 16-game point streak for Houston (32-10-1-1), which has won 14 of 16 and 17 of 20 and extended its West Division lead over idle Milwaukee to six points. The Aeros, playing their first game outside of the state of Texas since December 11, have outscored their opponents 18-3 in their four-game winning streak.
Adam Berkhoel made 19 stops for the Wolves, who hadn’t lost to the Aeros at home in regulation since April 7, 2002. Houston was 3-12-3-2 in the last 20 games, counting both regular- and post-season games, and all three victories were in overtime or a shootout. Chicago (16-18-2-6) has lost two straight after a two-game winning streak.
Kotyk made six saves in the first period, 15 in the second and nine in the third to record his first shutout since December 23, 2003 against Rochester, when he played for Cleveland. Kotyk, getting the bulk of work in place of an injured Josh Harding, is 6-1-0 with a 1.35 gaa in his last seven appearances. Kotyk has improved to 9-3-0 with a 2.46 gaa overall on the season. Tonight marked Houston’s first regular-season shutout at Allstate Arena since November 20, 1998, and just the second in 38 trips.
Westrum, who has four straight multiple-point contests and six in the last seven games, has 68 points (22-46=68), four ahead of Law (27-37=64) for the AHL’s points lead. O’Sullivan, meanwhile, reclaimed sole possession of the AHL rookie scoring lead with 46 points (23-23=46).
The Aeros, who went a perfect 10-of-10 on the penalty kill, set the tone early, knocking down 1:23 of a 5-on-3 in the opening five minutes.
The Wolves did the same with 51 seconds of a two-man advantage just after the period’s midway point, but just two seconds after Ramzi Abid’s tripping minor expired, Voloshenko scored his 24th goal of the season - 12th on the power play. Voloshenko put home a pass from Westrum for his fourth goal in the last three games.
Houston scored first in just one of the five regular season meetings at Allstate Arena last season.
Chicago was forced to try and kill off another 43 seconds of a 5-on-3 late in the first. The Wolves took two roughing penalties in the first period and went shorthanded five times.
This two-man advantage also led to a Houston goal. With the 5-on-3 still intact, Westrum tallied his 21st of the season - league-leading 14th on the power play. Law, in the low left circle, fed Westrum at the point, and Westrum ripped a blast over Berkhoel’s shoulder with 24 seconds remaining.
Law also assisted on Westrum’s goal to establish a new team record with a 16-game point streak. Law has 31 points (13-18=31) in that span, which eclipses Brian Wiseman’s 15-game run from December 27, 1998-January 30, 1999. It’s one off Portland’s Corey Perry’s AHL season-high.
The Aeros have outscored their opponents 10-1 in the first period of their last four games - all victories - and 19-6 in the last nine games.
Berkhoel snared Westrum’s wide-open attempt for a second goal early in the middle period. Seconds later, Berkhoel kicked out Voloshenko’s blast.
Chicago winger Billy Tibbetts - a former Aero - pushed a shot just wide of an empty net with the Wolves on the power play six minutes into the second.
Aeros defenseman Curtis Murphy broke up a Chicago shorthanded 2-on-1 with six minutes left in the middle period, and seconds later Law got hauled down, leading to yet another 33 seconds of a 5-on-3 for the Aeros.
This time, the Wolves were able to keep Houston off the board, and on the other end Kotyk stoned Derek MacKenzie on a shorthanded breakaway after Aeros defenseman Erik Reitz fanned on the puck. Kotyk made 15 saves in the second period as Chicago outshot Houston 15-8.
Chicago again got its turn for a lengthy 5-on-3, this one for 49 seconds in the opening minute of the third period.
O’Sullivan’s 24th goal extended the lead to 3-0 at 6:23 of the third. Peter Olvecky stole the puck behind the Chicago goal and fed a wide open O’Sullivan, who put the puck into an empty net for his fourth goal in three games.
O’Sullivan extended his point streak to a new career-best six games, with nine points (4-5=9) in that span.
Chicago’s Brian Maloney hit the post with less than four minutes remaining.
Westrum closed out the scoring with 3:13 left, stealing the puck, skating in on Berkhoel and snapping a quick shot off the goalie’s glove and into the net for his second of the night and 22nd of the season.
Chicago outshot Houston 9-6 in the third, but the Wolves couldn’t solve Kotyk, who withstood a flurry of shots late. Houston hasn’t allowed a third-period goal in its four-game winning streak.
Houston finished 2-for-10 on the power play, while Chicago went 0-for-10. The Aeros are 20-2-0-0 when scoring at least two power play goals. Houston has scored two or more PPG in 12 of its last 19 games. The Aeros have killed off 40-of-41 shorthanded chances over the last seven games since Grand Rapids went 5-for-10 on January 6.
Notes: Not dressing for the Aeros were Josh Harding, Joel Ward, Matt Foy, Joey Tetarenko and Andrei Nazarov. Aeros assistant coach Matt Shaw led the team for a third straight game in the absence of Rob Daum, who missed the game due to personal reasons. Special assistant to hockey Cam Stewart was also on the bench. Daum is expected to be back behind the bench Tuesday in Peoria. Houston has scored at least two goals in a period in 12 straight games. Westrum has an eight-game point streak (8-11=19). He also has a season-best eight-game assist streak, one off Petr Taticek’s team season-high. Westrum has points in 19 of his last 20 games, with 33 points (12-21=33) in that span. Law’s assist was his 113th point with the Aeros, tying him with Kyle Wanvig for 16th place on the team’s all-time list. Kotyk has five career shutouts. The Aeros are 31-2-0-0 when scoring three or more goals. Houston has won four straight road games to tie a season-high. A win Tuesday in Peoria would tie the second-longest road winning streak in team history at five games. It’s been accomplished four times - most recently October 18-24, 2002. The Aeros improved to 3-2-1-0 when playing their third game in three nights. They’ve won three of the last four games in that situation. Houston is 15-1-0-0 when Voloshenko has a goal, 15-1-0-0 when O’Sullivan scores and 16-2-0-0 when Westrum has a goal. Westrum is on pace for a 124-point campaign, which would better Wiseman’s 109-point season in 1998-99. No other Aero has ever notched more than 100 points in a season. Law is on pace for 116 points.