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Aeros 6, Griffins 1

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild
Aeros 6, Griffins 1

Official Box Score

HOUSTON, Texas – Matt Foy scored two more goals and added an assist, and Marco Rosa, Joel Ward, Roman Voloshenko and Benoit Pouliot also scored, as the Houston Aeros defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins 6-1 at Toyota Center. Josh Harding made 23 saves and Alex Leavitt notched two assists for Houston (10-11-0-1), which has won two of three and is off until Saturday in Omaha.

Stefan Liv stopped 13-of-18 shots before being pulled, and Ryan Oulahen scored a goal for Grand Rapids (8-10-2-1), which had won two in a row following a seven-game winless slide.

Foy tallied a natural hat trick – all in the final 7:25 – in Friday’s 5-3 win over San Antonio, and had an assist last night in Chicago. He notched seven points (5-2=7) in the final three games this week.

The Aeros, the 26th-ranked team in the AHL in power-play efficiency, made good on their first opportunity, at 5:24 of the opening period. Peter Ratchuk rifled toward the goal from the right point before handing the puck to Leavitt in front of the net. Leavitt faked a shot and instead touched a pass to Foy, who scored his fourth goal in three games into a wide open net from the left side.

But a Foy turnover led to Oulahen’s second goal of the season to tie the game at 8:42, three seconds after a Griffins power play expired. Foy flipped a pass from deep in the Grand Rapids zone to the point, and Oulahen picked it off, split defenders and raced in alone on Harding. Oulahen went five-hole on Harding to even the score.

Foy picked up a slashing minor at 12:47, making him just the seventh player in team history to score 100 points and accrue 300 penalty minutes.

Rosa scored his first goal as an Aero at 14:17, with the teams skating 4-on-4, to give Houston a 2-1 lead. Rosa deflected a Chris Ovington point shot in traffic, and the puck skipped over Liv’s glove and into the net.

Harding made his best save of the opening period with 1:15 left. A pass out of the corner caromed off a skate to Jeff Campbell in the low slot. Campbell collected the puck and let one rip, but Harding got low to the ground to squeeze the puck under his pads.

Tonight marked just the second time in the last six games that the Aeros have led after one period.

The Aeros had 1:32 of 5-on-3 time six minutes into the second, but could not come up with a second power play goal.

Oulahen had a golden opportunity to tie the game nine minutes into the second period, but whiffed on a bouncing puck deflected off Harding’s stick in front of an open goal.

Ward scored his second goal of the season halfway through the second. Josh Olson fed Ward who ripped a shot off the pad of Liv, but Ward got his own rebound and fired a slapper over Liv’s head for Houston’s third goal. Bryan Lundbohm was also credited with an assist, beginning a crisp 3-on-2.

Voloshenko, who tallied 33 goals in his rookie season in 2005-06, stole the puck deep in Grand Rapids territory with 8:30 remaining in the second, but Liv made the save with his chest.

Leavitt set up Foy for his second of the night and 11th of the season, exactly two minutes into the third. Leavitt stole the puck in the right corner, and floated a pass to a cutting Foy between the circles. Foy ripped a low shot that skidded under Liv.

Grand Rapids’ Matt Hussey caught Harding out of the net a minute later, but whistled a shot just wide of the far post.

Seconds later on the other end, Voloshenko snapped a 17-game goal-less drought, taking a pass from Foy on the left wing and wristing a shot high over Liv’s glove for his second goal of the season. The tally ended Liv’s night.

Harding made a fantastic glove save on Eric Himelfarb six minutes into the third, when Himelfarb took a breakaway pass and skated in from the right circle. Harding got just enough of the shot with his glove to push it into the far corner.

Pouliot, reassigned by NHL Minnesota this afternoon off a three-game stint with the Wild, scored his team-leading 12th goal 9:01 into the third. Pouliot stole the puck at the Grand Rapids blueline and made a tremendous individual play. He sidestepped a defender, then had to again go around him when he caught up. Jimmy Howard got a piece of Pouliot’s first shot, but the rookie sniper banged the rebound into the net.

The Aeros have outscored their opponents 6-0 in the third period of the last two home games.

Houston finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while Grand Rapids went 0-for-7. The Aeros had allowed four power play goals to Chicago last night.

Notes:
  • Not dressing for the Aeros were Steve Shields, Dieter Kochan, Erik Reitz, John Scott, Ryan Hamilton and Peter Olvecky.
  • With his assist, Ratchuck has seven points (2-5=7) in his last seven games.
  • Houston is 6-2-0-2 in the last 10 home meetings with Grand Rapids.
  • The Aeros have won two straight on home ice for just the second time this season, evening their Toyota Center mark at 5-5.
  • Rosa has two points (1-1=2) in his first two games with Houston.
  • Voloshenko scored 33 goals in the first 60 games of his career, and he has two in the last 36, counting the post-season.
  • Houston’s checking line often sets the tone for the game. The Aeros are 5-0-0-0 when Ward has a point, 5-0-0-1 when Olson has one and 4-0-0-0 when Lundbohm finds the scoresheet.
  • Twelve of the Aeros’ 17 skaters recorded at least a point.
  • Not dressing for the Aeros were Steve Shields, Dieter Kochan, Erik Reitz, John Scott, Ryan Hamilton and Peter Olvecky.  
  • With his assist, Ratchuck has seven points (2-5=7) in his last seven games.
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