|Moose 5, Aeros 4
| Official Box Score WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Former Aero Sven Butenschon and Rick Rypien each scored in the final nine minutes, as the Manitoba Moose came back for a 5-4 victory over Houston at MTS Centre to snap the Aeros’ five-game winning streak and hand them their first regulation loss of November. Prestin Ryan, Jimmy Roy and Jesse Schultz also scored, Butenschon added two assists and rookie Rob McVicar made 30 saves and turned away a penalty shot for Manitoba, which was 0-2-1-1 in its last four.
Kirby Law, Patrick O’Sullivan, Erik Westrum each notched a goal and an assist, and Petr Taticek also scored for Houston, which led by a single goal three times. Josh Harding made 31 saves, but the Aeros allowed three goals in the third period to fall for the first time since a 3-2 shootout loss to the Moose November 4. Houston was 6-0-0-1 since its last regulation loss, 4-0 in Peoria on October 30.
Houston (13-5-1-1) hits the quarter point of the season with 13 wins for just the third time in team history. The Aeros take on the Moose again Friday at 7:30 p.m. before traveling to Toronto to finish the four-game road trip Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Aeros wasted little time in their first game against McVicar, getting Taticek’s power play goal 4:14 into the contest. With Craig Darby in the box for hooking, Westrum found O’Sullivan behind the net. O’Sullivan slid a pass between defenders to an unmarked Taticek in front of the net, and he poked the puck home easily for his sixth of the season.
McVicar kept it 1-0 midway through the first when he stopped Bryan Lundbohm’s penalty shot. Lundbohm’s backhand-to-forehand move hit McVicar’s right pad and skidded out.
Harding made probably his best save of the first 20 games with less than six minutes left in the first, and the teams skating 4-on-4. Harding somehow snared Nathan Smith’s 2-on-1 attempt from the left circle out of the air while losing his balance and falling to the ice.
Ryan evened things up for Manitoba, with Westrum in the box for goaltender interference. Ryan broke in alone from the right point, took a feed from Alexandre Burrows, put a move on Harding and beat the netminder top shelf with 4:00 left in the opening period.
Roy put the Moose on top for the first time with 33 seconds left in the first. Rypien’s centering pass from the left wing was knocked down in front by an Aeros defender, and Roy fired the rebound by a screened Harding for his first goal of the season.
McVicar kicked out a Law shorthanded attempt with his skate midway through the second. A minute later, O’Sullivan snuck to the far post and took an Adam Courchaine feed from across the ice, but McVicar made the save.
McVicar’s luck ran out just moments later, as Houston scored twice in a 1:51 span to reclaim the lead.
O’Sullivan got Houston even at 13:32 of the second. Houston’s forecheck didn’t allow Manitoba to clear the zone, and O’Sullivan skated to the top of the right circle and unleashed his quick wrister. O’Sullivan beat McVicar high glove side for his sixth goal of the season.
Moose captain Mike Keane then went off for holding, and Westrum capitalized with his ninth of the season - sixth on the power play. Law, at the left point, slid a perfect cross-ice pass to Westrum in the right circle. Westrum rifled a one-timer that hit McVicar’s shoulder and bounced into the net for his league-best 29th point of the season.
Manitoba had a goal called off with two minutes left with the Moose on a power play, when referee Gord Dwyer ruled the puck was thrown into the net.
The Moose had 79 seconds of a 5-on-3 to begin the third, but didn’t get any quality scoring chances. After the advantage expired, Harding stopped Jozef Balej and Mike Brown on consecutive chances.
Houston’s Curtis Murphy then went off for hooking, and Harding somehow ranged right-to-left to rob Burrows’ wide open shot. Seconds later, Law picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving Manitoba another 1:16 of 5-on-3 time as Houston was whistled for its fifth straight minor penalty.
That was just too much of an advantage for the Moose, which tied the game up at 3-3 at 3:17. Burrows fed Butenschon at the top of the right circle, and Harding kicked out Butenschon’s rocket. But the puck trickled to the far post, and Schultz collected the puck and put it into the net for his ninth of the season. Schultz has goals in four straight games.
The Aeros answered right back, as Law’s 10th of the season put Houston on top 4-3 at 5:41 of the third. Murphy’s shot from the point was knocked down in front, and Law picked up a failed clear in the right circle. He settled a bouncing puck, then sent a slapshot that snuck by McVicar between the goalie’s arm and body.
After an O’Sullivan hooking penalty cut short a Houston power play, Butenschon took advantage on the Moose power play to tie the game at 4-4 with 8:39 left in regulation. Butenschon skated the length of the ice on the left wing, and put a centering pass on net for Schultz. The puck hit a retreating Aeros defenseman and went into the net for Butenschon’s first of the season.
Rypien just missed the game-winner with three minutes left, chipping a shot by his former junior teammate Harding but just over the crossbar.
But following a faceoff seconds later, Rypien found the net. The Aeros won the faceoff but couldn’t control the puck, and Rypien quickly slid a shot under Harding for his fourth goal of the season with 2:48 remaining.
Manitoba’s Jason Jaffray went off for hooking with 1:28 left, and Houston called timeout to set up its eighth man advantage of the game. But the Aeros didn’t seriously challenge McVicar in dropping their fourth straight game in Winnipeg.
Houston finished 3-for-8 on the power play, while Manitoba went 3-for-10. The Aeros fell to 8-1-0-0 when scoring at least two power play goals. Houston had killed off 31-of-32 shorthanded chances in the last six games prior to tonight.
Notes: Houston assigned goalie Miroslav Kopriva to CHL Austin prior to the game, and also lost defenseman Kurtis Foster to the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. Foster currently leads all AHL defensemen in scoring with 15 points (4-11=15). The Aeros scratched Colin Peters, Roman Voloshenko, Mark Rooneem and Andrei Nazarov. Aeros defenseman Erik Reitz had a four-game assist streak snapped. Westrum has a team-best 10 multiple point games. The Aeros suffered their first loss when scoring three or more goals (12-1-0-0). They are 3-4-0-0 when allowing four or more goals. The Aeros are still an AHL-best 8-2-1-1 in one-goal games, and 11-2-1-1 in games decided by two goals or less. Murphy assisted on O’Sullivan’s goal, tying him for 14th with Al Conroy on the Aeros’ all-time points list with 116. Murphy has a four-game point streak (1-3=4). Houston scored at least three power play goals for the fourth time this season, but for the first time since going 4-for-10 October 21 in a 7-3 win over Grand Rapids. Law’s assist on Westrum’s goal was the 350th point of his AHL career. Law and O’Sullivan each have assists in three straight games. Courchaine, a Winnipeg native, returned after a five-game absence for Houston. Veteran Joey Tetarenko returned after missing the last seven games. Harding allowed more than three goals for just the third time this season. The 21-year-old played his final year of junior hockey up the road in Brandon but fell to 0-3-0 in two seasons at MTS Centre. Manitoba is the third team this season to put up three power play goals against the Aeros. The Aeros fell to 9-2-0-0 when leading after two periods. Westrum’s 29 points are only four shy of his 2004-05 total with Utah, in just 20 games. He played all 80 games while picking up 33 points for the Grizzlies.