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Aeros 5, Rivermen 1

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild
Aeros 5, Rivermen 1

Official Box Score

HOUSTON, Texas - Roman Voloshenko notched two goals and an assist, Kirby Law tallied a goal and two assists to extend his point streak to a team-record-tying 15 games and Erik Westrum supplied four helpers to tie a career-high, as the Houston Aeros defeated the Peoria Rivermen 5-1 at Toyota Center in front of a season-high crowd of 7,752 on Girl Scout Night. Miroslav Kopriva made 35 saves and rookies Patrick O’Sullivan and Clayton Stoner each netted a goal for Houston, which has won 13 of 15 and kept its West Division lead at four points over Milwaukee, a 6-4 victor in Chicago tonight. The Aeros have won their last three games by a combined 14-3 margin.

Houston, two games into a grueling stretch of seven games in nine nights in four cities, travels to Chicago on Sunday for a 4 p.m. game to kick off a four-game road trip. It’s the Aeros’ first game outside the state of Texas since December 11.

The Aeros return home Saturday, Jan. 28 on Boy Scout Night against Chicago at 7:35 p.m. The Aeros will honor Rose Bowl Most Valuable Player Vince Young with a ceremonial puck drop.

Lee Stempniak scored and Patrick Lalime made 16 stops before being pulled for Peoria, which had won four in a row. Reinhard Divis stopped five shots in relief.

Law has tied the Aeros’ franchise record with a 15-game point streak (13-17=30), which is also a new career-high. Brian Wiseman also accomplished the feat from December 27, 1998-January 30, 1999.

Westrum, who also had four assists on Opening Night in a 6-5 win over San Antonio, has 65 points (20-45=65), two ahead of Law (27-36=63) for the AHL’s points lead.

The Aeros have faced Lalime twice, and fellow former NHL All-Star Chris Osgood once. The goalies are a combined 0-3-0 with a 6.62 gaa versus the Aeros. Lalime is 0-2-0 with a 7.00 gaa versus the Aeros this season.

Peoria had four shots on a power play midway through the first, but Kopriva - making his first appearance with the Aeros since October 28 - and the penalty killers were up to task. He gloved a Jeff Woywitka left point blast to secure the end of the kill.

Houston got its first power pay 12:09 into the first, and nine seconds later the Aeros capitalized, getting Voloshenko’s 22nd of the season. Curtis Murphy kept the puck in at the left point and slid a shot purposefully wide of the net to a cutting Voloshenko, who was all alone in the left circle and tipped it by Lalime.

The Aeros have outscored their opponents 8-1 in the first period over their last three games, and 17-6 in the last eight.

Lalime prevented the same power play goal early in the second, when Murphy slid a feed to Murray in the left circle. But the goalie kicked the redirection out.

Stoner scored a 4-on-4 goal 5:19 into the second, the rookie’s fifth goal of the season, to extend the advantage to 2-0. Westrum, flying up the left wing side, fired a cross-ice pass ahead of Law. Law picked up the puck in the corner and slid it to a cutting Stoner in the mid slot, and the defenseman ripped a top shelf shot by Lalime.

Voloshenko’s second of the night and 23rd of the season put Houston up 3-0 at 8:04 of the second. Westrum, behind his own net, hit Law in stride breaking out of the defensive zone. Law and Voloshenko skated in 2-on-1 on Lalime, and Law hit Voloshenko in stride on the right side. Voloshenko went top shelf on Lalime.

O’Sullivan’s third goal in the last two games extended the lead to 4-0 with 5:43 remaining in the middle period. Erik Reitz, at his own blueline, sprung the speedy rookie up the middle. O’Sullivan put a low shot by Lalime, despite Woywitka hanging all over him. A penalty was coming - and possibly a penalty shot - had O’Sullivan not converted. That ended Lalime’s night after 16 saves.

Stempniak followed a Trent Whitfield shot with 4:05 left in the second to get Peoria on the board and within 4-1.

Law’s team-best 27th of the season put the lead back at four with 39 seconds left in the middle period. He intercepted a pass at center ice and fed Westrum on the right wing. Westrum, leading a 3-on-1, passed to a cutting Law at the left doorstep, and the waiting Aeros captain put the puck by a beaten Reinhard Divis.

The Aeros have outscored their opponents 8-2 in the second period in their last six games.

Houston played a safe, simple game in the third period to close out the victory.

Houston finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while Peoria went 0-for-4.

  • Not dressing for the Aeros were Josh Harding, Bill Kinkel, Joel Ward, Joey Tetarenko and Andrei Nazarov.
  • Aeros assistant coach Matt Shaw led the team for a second 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.
  • Westrum has a seven-game point streak (6-10=16). He also has a season-best seven-game assist streak. Westrum has points in 18 of his last 19 games, with 30 points (10-20=30) in that span.
  • Law’s goal was his 112th point with the Aeros, moving him within one of Kyle Wanvig for 16th place on the team’s all-time list.
  • Law was a season-best plus-four.
  • Portland rookie Corey Perry, currently in Anaheim, holds the AHL’s longest point streak this season at 17. Syracuse’s Andy Delmore is the only other AHL player with a 15-gamer this season.
  • Westrum and Law each have at least one point in each of the Aeros’ 14 home games since getting shut out November 27 by Milwaukee. Westrum has 29 points and Law 28 in the last 14 home games.
  • The Aeros are 30-2-0-0 when scoring three or more goals.
  • Houston has scored four goals in a period in each of its last two games, and five times total this season.
  • Voloshenko netted his fifth multiple-goal game, tying him with Law and O’Sullivan for the team lead. It marked his first since December 9 at Rochester.
  • Peoria lost second-leading scorer Peter Sejna to an apparent lower body injury late in the first period, but he skated back to the bench early in the second.
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