AEROS HOST RIVERMEN WEDNESDAY FOR DIVISIONAL SHOWDOWN
HOUSTON - G Wade Dubielewicz (12-10-0) made 30 saves while forwards Chad Rau, Nathan Smith and Cody Almond each scored to lead the Houston Aeros (24-19-6-1) to a 3-1 victory over the Abbotsford Heat (21-22-4-3) in front of 3,524 at Toyota Center Monday night. D Staffan Kronwall scored the lone goal for Abbotsford while G David Shantz (2-4-0) stopped 15 of 18 to get saddled with the loss.
"It wasn't a perfect game, and it wasn't a 60-minute game tonight, but it was a formula that works," said Aeros Head Coach Kevin Constantine. "Find a way to score first, then try to find a way to win after that."
For the third time in four games against the Heat, the Aeros took a 2-0 lead to the first intermission. Rau opened the scoring 14:27 into the period when D Jamie Fraser used the right wing boards to deflect a pass from inside the Aeros zone to the stick of RW Danny Irmen waiting at the right point. Irmen darted into the zone and while falling to the ice found Rau alone on the doorstep for the easy tap in goal. LW Colton Gillies followed Irmen’s lead when he was tripped deep inside the Heat end. Before hitting the ice, he directed a pass toward Smith who beat Shantz top shelf with a one-timer for his ninth of the year at 17:10.
After two penalties late in the opening period, the Aeros opened the second down five skaters to three. The Heat capitalized just 51 seconds into the period when Kronwall tipped home his second of the year. Houston answered at 10:45. LW Petr Kalus threw the puck on net where a multitude of skaters converged. In the fray, Almond managed to poke the loose puck over the goal line to give the Aeros a 3-1 lead; D Justin Falk was also credited with an assist.
Neither team found the net in the final stanza as the Aeros extended their home point streak to six games (4-0-2-0) with the victory. Houston had dominated the Heat on the power play going 10-for-17 heading into Monday's match-up; however, they finished the game 0-for-6 on the man advantage. Abbotsford’s only goal was on a 5-on-3 power play as they went 1-for-6 on the night. The Heat outshot Houston 31-18 which ties the Aeros' season low in shots on goal. The Aeros finished the season series earning at least a point in each of the four meetings going 3-0-1-0. "You take a two-goal lead into that third period, you're playing your fourth game in six nights and you're a little fatigued and you just let up a touch," said Constantine. "Then it doesn't go well for five minutes and you try to kind of kick-start the engines again and man, if you're playing your fourth game in six nights and you've kind of sagged a little, you're not going to get the jets going again. So, we just kind of held on."
The Aeros return to the ice Wednesday as they play host to the Peoria Rivermen. Puck drop is set for 7:05 PM at Toyota Center. Watch the game live on ahllive.com or listen on 1070 AM - KNTH. Follow the interactive in-game blog at aeros.com. Check out the Aeros “Sweetheart Deal” and get $25 Center Ice Seats. For more information visit aeros.com or call 713-974-PUCK (7825).