Kyle Wanvigs power play goal 3:07 into overtime lifted the Houston Aeros to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Wolves at Toyota Center. Pierre-Marc Bouchard added a goal and two assists, Ray Giroux and Matt Foy also scored and Brent Burns and Zbynek Michalek had two assists apiece for Houston. Mike Smith made 23 saves.
The Aeros snapped a trio of streaks they won their first overtime decision in 20 tries, dating back to March 20, 2003; they snapped an eight-game winless streak against the Wolves going back to last December 7; and they won when trailing after two periods for the first time in more than a season (March 7, 2003, also a 4-3 home overtime decision over the Wolves).
Houston begins a six-game road trip Friday and Saturday in Edmonton.
Houston trailed 3-2 after two. The Aeros Mark Cullen got hit hard for the second time in the game, this time by Kip Brennan, 3:05 into the third. No penalty was called, although John Erskine picked up a fighting major along with Brennan for what followed.
But, the play inspired Houston, which got the 3-3 equalizer on a power play just more than a minute later with Stephen Baby in the box. Burns took a feed from Rickard Wallin and fired a shot from the center point. Foy, camped out in the low slot, tipped the puck by goalie Kari Lehtonen for his second goal of the season.
Smith kept the game tied with two great saves inside of five minutes, with Chicago on the power play. He got a piece of former Aero Travis Roches attempt from the right point, and he then kicked out Brennans rebound attempt while on his back. The Wolves rocketed five shots at Smith during the man advantage.
Houston had a 4-on-3 power play in overtime when Chicago captain Maltais went off for roughing at 2:47, and the Aeros took full advantage. Bouchard won the draw, and the puck was worked around to Burns at the center point. The 19-year-old blueliner let one loose, and Lehtonen kicked out his pads to make the save. But Wanvig, who took a stick to the face two shifts earlier, grabbed the loose puck and guided it by Lehtonen for his second goal of the season.
The Aeros went 3-for-11 on the power play, while Chicago was 2-for-6.
It was a thrilling ending to a terrific game that epitomizes the Chicago/Houston series. The teams have gone into overtime in 12 of the last 20 meetings, including seven of the last 10 in Houston.
Brennan scored twice for Chicago, which got a goal and an assist from Maltais and 43 saves from Lehtonen.
The teams each scored once in the first period.
With the teams 4-on-4, Bouchard scored his first with the Aeros with 3:32 left to put his team on top. Christoph Brandner fed Bouchard in the lower left circle, and Bouchard whirled and fired one by Lehtonen. Houston scored first for just the second time in six games.
Brennans power play marker, set up by a double minor to Stephane Veilleux (hooking, unsportsmanlike conduct) that ended a Houston 5-on-3, evened the score 2:06 later. Roche fed Greg Hawgood at the right point, and Hawgoods shot through traffic deflected off Brennan and under Smith.
Chicago went up 2-1 with 12:16 left in the second. After Giroux hustled back to stop a breakaway attempt when Cullen was uprooted at center ice, former Aero Cory Larose slid a pass from the lower left circle to Maltais, who touched the puck past Smith for his team-best sixth of the season.
Girouxs 4-on-3 goal with 10:47 remaining in the middle stanza knotted things back up. Giroux corralled the puck with speed as it was about to clear the zone, and he skated to the center point and cranked one through a screen and under Lehtonen for his first goal with the Aeros.
Chicago went back on top with 7:52 left in the second with Derek Boogaard in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. Maltais centered one from the right corner, and Brennan directed it by Smith for his second of the night.
Seemingly every major hockey championship in North America was represented, and then some, at Toyota Center today. Included were seven Stanley Cups (four by Islanders scout Ken Morrow and three more for the Stars Guy Carbonneau), one Olympic Gold Medal (Morrow was on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team), two AVCO Cups (Marty Howe won a pair of WHA titles with the Aeros in the 1970s), 18 Calder Cups (including eight current Aeros and two coaches) and seven Turner Cups.
Houstons scratches were Chris Heid, Erik Reitz, Marc Cavosie and Mikko Koivu.
Just two of the seven goals in the game came at even strength.