Official Box Score HOUSTON, Texas - Scottie Upshall tallied three goals and an assist and scored in the shootout, Rich Peverley netted the deciding shootout score and Brian Finley made 47 saves, as the Milwaukee Admirals outlasted the Houston Aeros 6-5 at Toyota Center in a matchup of the top two teams in the West Division. Greg Classen and Brandon Segal also scored for Milwaukee (31-12-4-1), which closed within four points of first-place Houston (34-12-1-2) in a game that featured 115 penalty minutes.
Patrick O’Sullivan and Kirby Law each scored two goals, and O’Sullivan and Josh Olson each scored in a stirring final 6:22 of regulation as Houston rallied to get a point. Seamus Kotyk made 29 saves for the Aeros.
The teams hook up again in a special 11:05 a.m. start time Tuesday for the Houston Chronicle in Education Field Trip Game. Click here
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Milwaukee has only one regulation loss in its last 12 games (9-1-2-0). Finley is 17-6-1 versus Houston in his career, including a 16-4-0 mark the last three seasons.
Law snapped Finley’s shutout streak versus the Aeros at 192:30 with his team-leading 28th goal of the season at 2:59 of the first. Erik Westrum stepped out from behind his own goal and fired a 125-foot breakaway pass to Law at the opposite blueline. Law caught the puck in stride and went in on Finley. Law deked, went back to the forehand and got the puck under the fallen netminder’s pads.
Kotyk made a great post-to-post save with 4:15 gone in the first period, and Milwaukee on the power play. Classen, at the right doorstep, found Chris Durno on the other side of the crease with a one-time pass, and Kotyk ranged all the way back to snag the shot.
Kotyk was outstanding again two minutes later, when the Admirals had two full minutes of a 5-on-3 after a double minor for roughing to Bill Kinkel and a hooking penalty to Curtis Murphy.
Westrum bloodied Aeros nemesis Simon Gamache with eight minutes expired in the first, in a big scrum in the Admirals zone. Referee Terry Koharski put each of the 10 players on the ice in the box for unsportsmanlike minors, plus Gamache got an extra penalty for charging. Play continued for 1:56 after the penalties expired, leading to some tired legs for the eight Aeros forwards and four defensemen. The Aeros had three All-Stars (Westrum, Murphy and Law) in the box during the span.
Kotyk somehow got a bit of his glove on a Peverley drive from the left circle with 2:50 left in the first, and then got a piece of the rebound attempt as well to push it wide.
Classen netted his 16th goal only nine seconds into the second period to knot the score. He won the faceoff and headed to the net. Darren Haydar found Upshall in the right circle, and Upshall sent a pass to a cutting Classen at the left doorstep. Classen banged the puck into the net, tying the quickest goal against the Aeros in any period.
Upshall, who has spent most of the season in the NHL with Nashville, put Milwaukee on top at 2:17 of the second, with his 14th goal in 14 games. He snuck the puck by Kotyk short side from a sharp angle after the netminder made a great save.
The Aeros’ three All-Stars went to the box again less than a minute later after Sheldon Brookbank hogtied Westrum and then sat on him. Meanwhile, behind the play, Zack Stortini facewashed Law and then went after him. Murphy picked up an unsportsmanlike minor, and the teams ended up playing 5-on-5.
Kotyk stoned Upshall on a shorthanded breakaway midway through the second. A minute later, Murphy saved Kotyk when the goalie was out of position, lunging across the crease to block Haydar’s point-blank attempt.
Law’s second of the night and 28th of the season, with Milwaukee’s T.J. Reynolds in the penalty box for tripping, got the Aeros even at 12:48 of the second. O’Sullivan, on the right wing boards, fed a pass to Murphy in the left circle. Murphy unleashed a drive that Law tipped under Finley.
Upshall’s second of the night and 15th in 14 games put Milwaukee back on top with 5:06 left in the middle period and the teams 4-on-4. The Ads stole the puck at their own blueline, and Classen fed Upshall on the right wing, and Upshall beat Kotyk.
There were 28 minor penalties called in the first two periods alone.
Finley slid post-to-post to rob a wide-open Westrum in the right circle 1:30 into the third.
Just more than a minute later, Segal’s 11th goal pushed the Admirals lead to 4-2. Chris Durno, in the left corner, flipped the puck through two defenders to an unmarked Segal, who chipped the puck over Kotyk.
The Aeros got right back within one, 2:04 later at the 4:41 mark. Bill Kinkel, behind the net, fed Petr Taticek in the right circle. Taticek threaded a perfect pass to O’Sullivan in the low slot, and the league’s top rookie scorer poked the puck into an open cage for his 26th goal of the season.
Another fracas broke out midway through the third. Milwaukee, which had leading penalty-getter Stortini among others on the ice, got Law off the ice for 12 minutes and Westrum for five. There was a 14-minute break while Koharski and the linesmen sorted out the penalties. The teams ended up 4-on-4 for two minutes, and then the Aeros had a three-minute power play due to an extra fighting major on the Admirals.
Upshall scored 34 seconds later, when his centering pass from behind the net went off Kotyk’s right skate and into the net.
The Aeros eventually got nearly two full minutes of a 5-on-3, and Finley held sway with the AHL’s two leading scorers unavailable until the end of the first penalty was about to expire.
O’Sullivan rebounded a Murphy miss in the right circle and snapped a quick shot by Finley for his second of the night and 27th of the season.
The Aeros called their timeout to set up another 1:21 of power play time, but didn’t find the net again.
Olson knotted things up with 4:06 remaining in regulation. Finley stopped Bryan Lundbohm’s wraparound attempt, while drawing a penalty, and Joel Ward’s rebound was headed well wide but it went off Olson an Admirals defenseman put it into his own net. Olson got credited for the unassisted tally, his 10th goal.
Westrum ripped a shot from the right circle with 2:45 left that Finley just held on to.
Regulation ended at 10:24 p.m. - some 2:43 after the game began.
Koharski assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Milwaukee bench due to some chatter with 1:20 remaining in the extra session. The Admirals actually got the best chance with 25 seconds left, when Kevin Klein split defenders, did a spin move but was stopped by Kotyk.
Milwaukee All-Star Libor Pivko slid the puck by Kotyk in the first round of the shootout, and Finley stopped Westrum. Gamache went in round two for the Admirals, but Kotyk did the splits to keep the puck out of the net. Finley snared O’Sullivan’s shot with his glove.
In round three, Peverley went five-hole on Kotyk, and Law’s big slapper went high over Finley’s shoulder. Upshall went under Kotyk, putting the Aeros on the brink of elimination. Finley stopped Roman Voloshenko with his pad to secure the victory.
Houston finished 2-for-9 on the power play, while Milwaukee went 0-for-6. Notes: Not dressing for the Aeros were Josh Harding, Colin Peters, Peter Olvecky, Joey Tetarenko and Andrei Nazarov. Olvecky missed the first of four games from an AHL suspension stemming from a charging penalty last Friday in Peoria. Ward returned after missing the last 12 games due to injury. Taticek returned after missing seven games while on recall to the NHL’s Florida Panthers. Nashville assigned former Aero Jeremy Stevenson to Milwaukee this morning while recalling Jordin Tootoo. Stevenson is expected to join the Admirals in time for the Tuesday meeting. Westrum (32 points) and Law (31) each have points in each of the Aeros’ last 16 home games. Houston has drawn 7,000 or more in each of its last four home games, the first time that’s happened since the final four games of the 1998-99 season. This was the second straight 11,000-plus crowd, after 11,672 jammed Toyota Center last Saturday. The Aeros fell to 31-4-0-0 when scoring three or more goals. Utah’s Paul Kruse scored nine seconds into the first period of a 4-2 Aeros win on March 25, 2000. The Aeros are 4-15-2-2 in the last 23 meetings since a 5-1 win October 17, 2004. Since beating Milwaukee 7-0 at Toyota Center January 11, 2005, the Aeros are 2-6-1-1 against the Admirals. Houston is 7-0-0-1 when playing on at least four days’ rest.