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Aeros 6, Knights 5 (SO)

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild


AEROS 6, Knights 5 (SO)

Official Box Score

OMAHA, Neb. - Kurtis Foster scored two goals and added an assist, Kirby Law tallied a pair of power play goals, and the American Hockey League’s new leading scorer Erik Westrum supplied three assists, as the Houston Aeros eked out a wild 6-5 shootout victory over the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights at Omaha Civic Auditorium. Rookie Patrick O’Sullivan scored early in the third period to give Houston a 5-2 lead, but the Aeros - who trailed by two just four minutes into the game - needed the shootout to claim the victory after the Knights scored a pair of extra-attacker, 6-on-3 goals in the final 2:03 of regulation. O’Sullivan was also credited with the game-winner in the shootout.

Josh Harding finished with 30 saves and Curtis Murphy added two helpers for the Aeros, who became the 10th team in only 50 AHL games this season to rally from at least two goals down for a victory.

Houston (4-1-0-0) has won four of its first five games for just the third time in team history. In both of the previous seasons (1998-99, 2002-03), the Aeros won the league title.

David Moss scored twice, including one of the three-man advantage goals, and Mark Giordano forced overtime with the same type of marker with 56 seconds remaining. Warren Peters and Carsen Germyn also scored and former No. 1 pick Brent Krahn made 28 saves for Omaha.

The Aeros finish off their five-game road trip with a 7 p.m. rematch in Omaha on Thursday. Houston has won the middle three games of the trek, its first three-game road winning streak since November 19-23 of last season. The Aeros haven’t won four in a row away from home since a five-game streak from October 18-24, 2002.

Houston returns home Friday at 7:35 p.m. against Grand Rapids, with the first 5,000 fans receiving "A Winning Tradition" posters.

Westrum, who had four helpers Opening Night, has 12 points (4-8=12) in only five games, the best start for an Aero in team history. He leads the AHL’s scoring race by two points, and Law (5-4=9) is only three behind Westrum and one in back of second-place Jiri Hudler. Westrum also leads the circuit in assists. Westrum, Law and linemate Roman Voloshenko have accounted for 26 of Houston’s 34 forward scoring points. O’Sullivan (1-2=3) has three of the other eight points.

Foster has seven points (2-5=7), second in the AHL among defensemen and just a point ahead of Murphy (0-6=6).

Houston took a seemingly commanding 5-2 lead 1:26 into the third on O’Sullivan’s second goal in as many games. But the Knights had other plans.

Houston’s Clayton Stoner fought Peters with 14:41 remaining, the rookie’s second bout of the night. Bill Kinkel went with Brandon Prust 93 seconds later.

The fights seemed to energize the Knights, who scored three times in the final 12:51, including a pair of 6-on-3 goals in a 67-second span late.

Just after the Kinkel/Prust bout, German cranked a rebound shot by Harding for his first of the season. A Darren Lynch point blast kicked off a skate right to Germyn at the doorstep.

Houston was whistled for four minor penalties in the final 3:18 of regulation to set up the Knights’ final rally.

Omaha got 1:23 of a 5-on-3 with 3:40 left, when with O’Sullivan in the box for hooking, Harding got called for roughing, knocking a Knights player to the ice. It became a three-man advantage when Omaha coach Ryan McGill pulled Krahn to begin the advantage, and Moss scored with 2:03 left in regulation to bring the Knights within one.

The Aeros then went down two men, again, when Dustin Wood took a holding penalty for a 48-second 5-on-3 with 1:27 left. Again, McGill pulled Krahn, and Omaha was able to get even. Giordano skated from the left point into the mid slot and fired a shot by Harding with 56 ticks remaining.

Houston got a brief power play early in overtime, and another one with 2:44 remaining when Craig MacDonald was whistled for interference. But the Aeros didn’t get a shot on the second advantage, and they were outshot 2-0 in the extra session.

Houston finished 3-for-10 on the power play, while Omaha went 3-for-9.

The shootout was eerily similar to regulation, as Houston scored on its first three shots, only to watch Omaha close the gap in round three and four.

Westrum deked Krahn to the ground and went left for a goal in round one. Giordano countered, but Harding pokechecked the puck away. In the second round, Law banked a shot off Krahn’s stick into the back of the net. German then went for Omaha, but he didn’t get a clean shot off, and the Aeros looked on their way to victory, again.

O’Sullivan took the ice in round three for Houston and lifted a quick shot blocker side over the goalie. Richie Regehr, who had three assists, blasted a shot just under the crossbar to stave off elimination.

Krahn stoned Aeros newcomer Petr Taticek with a sprawling save, and Lynch again kept the Knights alive with a five-hole goal on Harding.

Rookie Roman Voloshenko had a chance to put Omaha away, but his shot went off the goalpost, then Krahn, before the goalie fell on the puck. Harding turned Moss’ attempt just wide, giving Houston the thrilling victory.

The teams battled to a 2-2 tie after an entertaining opening 20 minutes that set the scene for the wild finish.

Omaha took just 3:02 to take a 1-0 lead, with a delayed penalty upcoming and the teams 4-on-4. Brett Palin took a feed at the right point and unleashed a slap shot that deflected off Peters and by Harding for his third goal of the season.

Kinkel picked up a roughing minor and a 10-minute misconduct as the goal happened. Only 63 seconds later with Omaha on the power play, Moss’ first goal of the game and season gave the Knights a 2-0 lead. A crush of bodies crashed into Harding as the puck crossed the goal line.

The Aeros got within one at 7:20 of the first, with Law’s power play goal, just after 60 seconds of a 5-on-3 expired. Westrum walked on net from the right corner, but his shot was blocked out to Murphy at the top of the right circle. Murphy faked the shot and deftly slid a pass to a streaking Law at the far post. The Houston captain poked the bouncing puck just over the goal line.

Houston evened the score with 3:22 left in the opening period, with MacDonald off for slashing. Westrum hit the post, and Voloshenko was whacked to the ground while attempting the rebound. Referee Jeff Smith raised his arm to call a penalty, but Law quickly put the puck in the net for his fifth of the season - fourth on the power play. Richie Regehr went off for cross-checking anyways. Stoner picked up his first pro assist on the play.

A minute later, with Houston on the power play, a horizontal Krahn just got a piece of a O’Sullivan blast with his arm.

Omaha controlled much of the second period, but terrific netminding by Harding and two goals from Foster put the Aeros on top heading into the third.

Harding was up to task with the Knights on the power play with 13:58 left in the second. He kicked out Moss’ shot from the point, which was deflected in traffic. Lynch hopped on the rebound, but Harding was there again to preserve the tie.

With six minutes remaining in the middle period, Harding turned away Moss’ point-blank attempt from the left circle on the power play with his stick.

Foster, the Aeros’ hulking 6-foot-5, 230-pound defenseman, scored twice in the period’s final 4:02 to give Houston the lead, seemingly for good.

Foster took advantage of an Omaha turnover and a line change, scoring unassisted to give the Aeros the advantage. Foster stole the puck just outside the blue line on the right wing, skated in and snapped a shot from the middle of the circle by Krahn for his first goal as an Aero.

Foster’s second of the period, on the power play, pushed the lead to 4-2 with 40 seconds remaining. His rising rocket from the left circle on a feed from Murphy eluded Krahn, giving him his eighth career two-goal game and fourth three-point contest.

The Aeros continued to go to work only 1:26 into the third, getting O’Sullivan’s second goal and third point in as many pro games. Foster ripped a shot from the point, and O’Sullivan hopped on the rebound and poked it home.

  • If all goes to plan, the Aeros will face three-time NHL All-Star and one-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie Chris Osgood Friday in Houston. Osgood, rehabbing a groin injury, was assigned to Grand Rapids today by the Detroit Red Wings. Osgood is expected to play Wednesday in San Antonio and Friday in Houston.
  • The Aeros scratched Seamus Kotyk, Chris Heid, Anders Myrvold, Adam Courchaine and Mark Rooneem.
  • Two Aeros made their debuts tonight. Rem Murray, an eight-year NHL veteran, hadn’t played a competitive, regular-season game since 1/6/04, with Nashville, due to cervical dystonia, a nerve disorder in his neck. Murray’s last AHL game was all the way back in 4/16/96, with Cape Breton. The veteran has accrued 213 points (93-120=213) in 551 career NHL games with Edmonton, Nashville and the New York Rangers. He attended the Detroit Red Wings’ camp this fall. Taticek, meanwhile, was loaned to the Aeros from the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Taticek, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, has totaled 41 points (11-30=41) in 130 AHL games with San Antonio for the past two seasons. He was in camp with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades prior to the transaction.
  • Foster’s last two-goal game came April 15 in Grand Rapids, when he played for Cincinnati. His last three-point game was against the Aeros, last February 26.
  • Westrum didn’t have as many as three assists in any of his first 279 AHL games. Now, in just five games for the Aeros, he has a four-assist game and three-assist game.
  • Houston was 5-6 in shootouts last season.
  • It took Law 19 games to reach five goals in 2004-05. He has five in only five contests this season.
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