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The Official Site of the Minnesota Wild

Aeros 6, Admirals 1

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild
Aeros 6, Admirals 1

Official Box Score

HOUSTON, Texas – Defenseman Shawn Belle posted his first career two-goal game, Benoit Pouliot and Roman Voloshenko each tallied a goal and two assists and Josh Harding made 26 saves, as the Houston Aeros routed the Milwaukee Admirals 6-1 at Toyota Center. Jason Morgan and Peter Olvecky added a goal apiece and Erik Reitz chipped in two helpers for Houston (18-20-0-5), which wraps up a three-game homestand against the Admirals on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. Buy tickets. It’s also a Maple Leaf Pub Happy Hour Game. Call 713.974.PUCK beginning Monday at 8:30 a.m. to order.

Kelsey Wilson scored a goal and Pekka Rinne made 16 stops in two periods for Milwaukee (21-16-3-4), which fell to 5-2-0-1 in its last eight and remained tied with Peoria for third place in the West Division. The Admirals have dropped five of the last six regular meetings with Houston, but swept the Aeros in the 2006 West Division Finals.

The Aeros got a power play just 22 seconds into the contest thanks to a hooking call to former Minnesota Wild defenseman Alex Henry, but Houston couldn’t capitalize. Ryan Hamilton deflected a Peter Ratchuk point shot just wide near the end of the man advantage.

Harding was tested early, stoning John Vigilante, who took a pass at the right doorstep from Cal O’Reilly.

Milwaukee got on the board first at the 7:03 mark. Reitz tried a long pass up the middle, and Brandon Segal picked off the puck. Segal fed Bracken Kearns, who hit a cutting Wilson in the low slot. Wilson one-timed the puck by Harding for his eighth goal of the season.

The Aeros have allowed the game’s first goal in 10 of their last 12 games, including six straight.

But Belle, just back from a week-plus with NHL Minnesota, countered to even the score at 1-1 with 9:10 gone. Reitz, at the right point, fed Belle across ice. Belle, who had two goals in his entire rookie season of 2005-06, fired a shot through a screen that eluded Rinne low for his first of the night and second of the campaign. The goal also snapped Milwaukee’s consecutive penalty kill streak at 31.

Milwaukee got its first power play with 8:04 remaining in the first, and Harding had to be great right off the faceoff. A turnover in the corner led to O’Reilly finding himself wide open low in the left circle. O’Reilly tried to go low, but Harding closed up.

Rinne kept the game tied after the man advantage was over, staying low to get a piece of Mattias Weinhandl’s 3-on-2 shot from between the circles.

Rinne made back to back saves on Voloshenko and Pouliot late in the first.

Harding was outstanding again early in the second, somehow getting a pad on Ramzi Abid’s redirection from the doorstep.

Morgan gave Houston its first lead at the 4:39 mark with a power play goal, but Harding played a huge part in that play as well. Harding stoned Admirals leading scorer Rich Peverley on a 2-on-1. Reitz took the puck and headed the other way, finding Matt Foy along the left side. Foy left a drop pass for a cutting Morgan, who blistered the puck by Rinne for his fifth goal of the season.

Morgan’s eighth of the season and second in as many games extended the lead to 3-1 with 7:43 expired in the second. Pouliot, along the right wing boards, corralled a pass from Clayton Stoner and flipped the puck to Voloshenko at the edge of the right circle. Voloshenko quickly turned and fired, beating Rinne high glove side for Houston’s first even strength goal in 154:38.

Harding stopped Bracken Kearns twice on a 2-on-1 midway through the second.

The Aeros got 1:01 of a 5-on-3, and Rinne prevented further damage by swallowing up Reitz’ center point blast with Morgan in front of the net. But at the end of the second Milwaukee penalty, Pouliot’s 16th goal – taking over the team lead from Foy – made it 4-1 Houston, with 7:33 left in the second. Voloshenko, in the high slot, fed Pouliot low in the right circle. Pouliot walked in on Rinne and slid a shot short side by the netminder.

Belle scored his second of the game and third of the season, with his team shorthanded, with 1:28 left in the middle period. Belle took the puck deep in the Houston zone and headed up ice 2-on-1 with Morgan. Belle started behind Morgan, but caught up using his speed. Belle, in the left circle, unwound a massive slapshot that beat Rinne low.

Karl Goehring replaced Rinne to begin the third period. Rinne played in just his second game back after a serious shoulder injury in the off-season. He has allowed nine goals in five periods.

Olvecky finished off a five-and-go from Voloshenko for his fifth goal of the season with 11:55 left in the third.

Houston’s 6-foot-8 rookie John Scott squared off with T.J. Reynolds at center ice with 9:02 remaining, and Scott ended the bout with a slight advantage.

Goehring ruined Pouliot’s chance for a fourth point – which would have tied an Aeros rookie record – when he stoned Weinhandl’s redirection from the low lot. Pouliot had left a drop pass for Voloshenko at the top of the left circle.

Houston finished 3-for-6 on the power play, while Milwaukee went 0-for-5. The Aeros’ penalty kill unit had allowed six goals on the last 18 chances entering the game.

Notes:
  • Not dressing for the Aeros were Josh Olson, Chris Ovington, Ben Thomson and Joey Tetarenko. Houston got Belle, Reitz and Joel Ward down from NHL Minnesota prior to the game.
  • Minnesota Wild president and general manager Doug Risebrough was in attendance.
  • Milwaukee dressed just 16 skaters – one fewer than the AHL maximum – due to injuries. The Admirals were playing their third game in three nights, and after taking Monday off, play three-in-three again beginning Tuesday at Toyota Center.
  • Belle became the first Aeros defenseman other than Curtis Murphy to score two goals in a game since Brent Burns did it April 15, 2005, against Chicago.
  • The Aeros improved to 7-1-0-1 when scoring two or more power play goals.
  • Pouliot also notched three points (2-1=3) November 17 against San Antonio.
  • Houston is 10-4-0-1 when Pouliot scores a goal.
  • The Aeros play six of their next 16 games – including each of their next three home games – against the Admirals.
  • Nine of Houston’s 18 victories have been in come-from-behind fashion.
  • Houston is 17-6-0-4 when scoring three or more goals, and 1-14-0-1 when scoring two or fewer.
  • The Aeros’ six goals scored marked their highest output since a 6-1 win over Grand Rapids at Toyota Center on November 26.
  • Harding is 5-2-0 in his career against Milwaukee, having allowed just eight goals in seven games.
  • Former Aeros fan favorite Lane Lambert returned to Houston as an assistant coach with Milwaukee.
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