Aeros 6, Stars 1
Official Box Score
Photo by Kirk Sides
HOUSTON, Texas - All-Stars Erik Westrum (2-1=3) and Kirby Law (1-2=3) each picked up three points for the second straight game and fellow All-Star Curtis Murphy notched a goal and an assist, as the Houston Aeros earned a 6-1 victory over the Iowa Stars at Toyota Center. Matt Foy and Roman Voloshenko also scored, Patrick O’Sullivan, Bryan Lundbohm and Peter Olvecky chipped in two assists apiece and Seamus Kotyk made 16 saves in relief of an injured Josh Harding for Houston, which recovered from an early deficit to win for the 10th time in 11 games overall and for the ninth time in 10 home outings. The Aeros (28-9-1-1) have 58 points, nine more than second-place Milwaukee, which has two games in hand.
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Loui Eriksson scored and former Aero Mike Smith made 17 saves in two periods for the Stars, who fell to 9-4-0-0 in their last 13 and 0-3-0-0 against the Aeros this season. Dan Ellis stopped five shots in relief.
Westrum, who scored twice in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Toronto, has 56 points (18-38=56), including a league-leading 38 assists, while Law (24-31=55) has an AHL-best 24 goals and is second with 31 helpers. They rank first and second in the AHL in points. Law extended his point streak to 11 games (10-12=22), tied with Westrum for the most by an Aero this season. Law picked up his 49th goal with the Aeros and his 104 points are two shy of Dan Cavanaugh for 20th place on the team’s all-time list. His next goal will make him the 13th in team history with 50.
Murphy, meanwhile, moved to 33 points (5-28=33), alone in second place among AHL blueliners and just two behind Syracuse’s Andy Delmore (6-29=35). Murphy has seven points (2-5=7) in a four-game point streak.
It was an anticipated first matchup between Harding and Smith, who tended the Aeros’ nets together in 2004-05 when the Dallas Stars shared the Aeros’ affiliation agreement with the Minnesota Wild. But Harding was gone for precautionary measures after one period due to a lower body injury, and Smith was pulled after allowing four goals in two periods. Harding is listed as day-to-day.
Eriksson scored his 10th goal on the game’s first shot, 3:34 in, to give the Stars an early advantage. Harding kicked out former Aero Patrick Traverse’s shot from the right point, but Eriksson controlled the rebound and slid it into a near empty cage.
Law’s league-leading 24th goal and team-best third shorthanded tally got the Aeros even at 7:59 of the first. He stole the puck and had a rifle of a shot blocked by Vojtech Polak. Lundbohm collected it in the left corner and slid a pass to a cutting Law between the circles. Law faked, went forehand-backhand-forehand and went under Smith’s pads.
Harding was injured with 6:18 left in the first. He misplayed the puck behind the net, and quickly had to get back to make a terrific save. Harding went to his stomach with an injury, but after several minutes he remained in the game. However, he was replaced by Kotyk to begin the second period after making seven saves.
Foy’s fourth goal of the season, 7:03 into the middle frame, put the Aeros on top for the first time. Just after a Houston penalty kill, Lundbohm headmanned a pass to Olvecky on the right wing. Olvecky broke into the zone and left a drop pass for Foy, who wound up and fired a shot five-hole again on Smith.
A beautifully set up power play goal by Murphy made it 3-1 Aeros with 9:05 remaining in the second. Westrum, at the center point, fed O’Sullivan in the right circle. O’Sullivan took his time and threaded a great cross-ice pass to Murphy, who snuck behind the defense and got to the left faceoff circle dot. Murphy one-timed the puck into the net before Smith could recover for his fifth goal and second in three games.
Westrum tallied his 17th goal, on a 5-on-3, with 5:34 left in the second for a three-goal advantage. Murphy kept the puck in the zone at the right point and slid a pass to Westrum at the center blueline. Westrum walked to the left circle and slid a pass to Law below the goal line. Law one-timed a pass right back to a set up Westrum, who blasted the puck low under Smith.
The Aeros killed off back-to-back penalties midway through the third, then got two goals in a span of 1:33 to finish off the rout.
Westrum’s second of the night and 18th of the season, on a nifty left-to-right feed by Law, came with 6:29 left. Voloshenko scored five-hole on Ellis with 4:56 remaining.
Houston finished 2-for-6 on the power play, while Iowa went 0-for-5. The Aeros are 18-2-0-0 when scoring two or more man advantage goals. Houston is 8-for-27 (29.6 percent) in the last four games, with two power play goals in each game. Notes:
Not dressing for the Aeros were Bill Kinkel, Scott Ferguson, Joel Ward and Andrei Nazarov. A game after allowing a franchise-record 58 shots, the Aeros surrendered only 24 tonight. Kotyk has won three straight decisions, one off his career-high, set twice. The last time he won three in a row was October 20-November 20, 2004. Houston has trailed in 13 of its 28 victories and is 11-4-0-0 when allowing the first goal. Law is four games shy of Brian Wiseman’s franchise-record 15-game point streak. Law’s 49 goals tie him with Stephane Veilleux for 12th on the team’s all-time list. Cory Larose is 11th with 50. Foy has 16 points (4-12=16) in only 15 games since returning from Minnesota. Murphy has 16 points (2-14=16) in his last 15 games. O’Sullivan moved back into the top spot among rookie scoring with 39 points (19-20=39). Westrum and Voloshenko are tied for the team lead with 11 power play goals, one ahead of Law. Aeros veteran center Rem Murray had a season-long five-game point streak (2-4=6) snapped. Houston center Petr Taticek assisted on Voloshenko’s goal, extending his assist streak to a franchise-record-tying nine games. Brian Wiseman accomplished the feat from November 23-December 12, 1997. The Aeros are 27-2-0-0 when scoring three goals or more. Houston has won 14 of 16 at home and is 17-3-1-1 at Toyota Center this season, 23-3-1-3 in the last 30 regular-season games there and 31-5-1-3 in the last 40 contests. The Aeros improved to 15-1-0-0 when outshooting their opponent. Houston also had four straight multiple power play goals from December 16-26, including one game with three. Long-time NHL’ers Ulf Dahlen and Kari Takko, members of the Dallas’ Stars European scouting department, were in attendance.