From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 3, Grizzlies 0Official Box Score
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah
Josh Harding made 31 saves and fought opposing goalie Jamie Storr, and Ray Giroux finished with a goal and an assist, as the Houston Aeros blanked the Utah Grizzlies 3-0 at The E Center. Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Todd Reirden also scored for Houston, which is 1-0-0-1 to begin a five-game road trip that continues Friday and Saturday in Cincinnati. Mike Smith made one save in the 31 seconds Harding was out of the game, meaning this game goes down as a team shutout.
The Aeros, who picked up their franchise-record eighth shutout of the season, will enter the series with the Ducks five points behind them for third place in the West Division.
The fight was the first for an Aeros goalie in the regular season since Ryan Bach duked it out with San Antonios Sergei Zvyagin on March 21, 1998, in a 6-1 Houston win. Harding lowered his goals against average to 2.04 and evened his record at 11-11-1, including a 6-4-0 mark since suffering a Grade 3 concussion versus Utah November 28.
Storr, who made 35 saves in a 2-1 Utah shootout win over Houston on Monday, turned aside 22 shots for the Grizzlies, who fell to 4-2-0-1 in their last seven home games. Storr, a veteran of more than 200 NHL games, crossed the red line to go after Harding late in the second after the Aeros took the three-goal lead.
Utahs Erik Westrum, who scored the game-winner in Utahs 2-1 shootout win Monday, had an open net to shoot at five minutes into the game, but his shot went wide.
Storr got a piece of Mark Cullens rebound attempt three minutes later, then covered up with the Aeros hovering.
Houston struck first for the first time in eight games, as Giroux scored at the 8:52 mark.
Matt Foy hustled ahead of the pack to catch up to the puck, and he left a pass for Stephane Veilleux. Veilleux dropped the puck to Giroux, who hesitated and waited for Storr to commit before wristing a shot inside the far post for his seventh goal of the season.
Harding kept the Aeros in front, stopping Dana Lattery on a breakaway at 10:34, but Giroux was called for hooking on the play.
Aaron Gavey got in alone on Harding less than a minute into the second period when a teammate picked Reirden, but the rookie made the save.
Storr helped the Grizzlies stay within a goal midway through the second, when he robbed Derek Boogaards attempt at his first AHL goal.
Reirden solved Storr with 7:58 left in the second, pushing the Aeros lead to 2-0. Mikko Koivu won the faceoff clean back to Reirden, whose shot went top shelf over the goalie for his third goal of the season.
Houstons lead increased to three goals with 2:01 remaining in the middle period. Giroux kept the puck in at the point and threw it on net. Bouchard whacked the puck out of mid-air and past Storr for his ninth goal of 2004-05.
The Aeros and Grizzlies then reverted to their form from earlier this season, when they combined for 342 penalty minutes November 28 and February 8.
Aeros defenseman John Erskine, who spent parts of the last three seasons in Utah, went to the locker room late in the second period when he was hit hard into the boards and given a bloody cheek.
Seconds later, Houstons Dan Cavanaugh got jumped from behind and an all-out fracas ensued.
Storr crossed over the red line to challenge Harding, who held his own in his first pro fight. Harding missed two months after Utahs Jeff Taffe elbowed him in the back of the head in the November 28 game.
Each goalie picked up seven minutes in penalties and yielded to Mike Smith and David LeNeveu. Harding came back in to begin the third period, but Storr stayed out of the game
The third period was calm until Westrum and Erskine collided past the midway point. Gavey and Kiel McLeod double-teamed Erskine. The teams still skated 5-on-5 after the play. Seconds later, Cavanaugh and Utahs Jakub Koreis fought. Cavanaugh was tossed from the game.
Boogaard and Utahs Matthew Spiller went at it with a minute left.
The Grizzlies outshot the Aeros 13-1 in the third, but Harding was perfect.
Houston finished 0-for-1 on the power play, while Utah went 0-for-2. The Aeros have killed off 46-of-48 shorthanded chances over their last 13 games.
Houston announced prior to the game that Sundays contest in San Antonio will begin at 4:30 p.m. (ct), 30 minutes later than previously announced. The switch was made to give both teams extra time to get to SBC Center. They are actually on the same flight from Chicago on Sunday. Houston is in Cincinnati Saturday, while San Antonio plays at Grand Rapids.
The Aeros scratched Chris Heid, Joey Tetarenko, Erik Reitz, Bill Kinkel, David Bararuk, Marius Holtet and Christoph Brandner. Holtet stayed behind due to a minor concussion suffered when Chicagos Kyle Rossiter hit him with an elbow in open ice Saturday.
Houston last scored first February 5, in a 1-0 home win over Milwaukee.
Foys assist was his first since February 4.
Giroux, a defenseman, has eight points (2-6=8) in his last eight games. His 22 points now lead Brent Burns by two for the team lead among blueliners. His assist was the 150th of his AHL career.
Reirden has two of his three goals in the last five games.
Houston finished the game with 49 penalty minutes, while Utah had 27.
The Aeros improved to 3-7-4-1 in February road games in the last two seasons.
Erskine played in his 299th pro game.
Houston had played five straight one-goal games.
Utah has scored only four regulation goals in its last five games.