From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Sunday, April 10, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 2, Rampage 1Official Box Score
Josh Harding stopped 27 shots for his sixth straight win, Rickard Wallin tallied a goal and an assist and Mikko Koivu scored his 10th goal against San Antonio this season, as the Houston Aeros stayed in a third-place tie with a 2-1 victory over the Rampage at Toyota Center. Houston, which has two games remaining, is tied at 89 points with Cincinnati, a 1-0 road winner over Cleveland today. Cincinnati has one game in hand on Houston, and the teams are five points clear of fifth-place Grand Rapids, which has two games in hand on the Aeros and one on the Ducks. The top four teams in the West Division make the post-season.
Houston, which went 9-1-2-0 against San Antonio this season, gets four days of rest after playing seven games in nine nights, and plays its penultimate regular season game Friday at 7:35 p.m. against first-place Chicago on Mike Smith Bobblehead Night. The Aeros, 7-2-1-0 when playing their third game in three nights, finish off the regular season next Sunday at 5:05 p.m. against Utah in another Family Day contest.
Travis Scott made 32 saves and Petr Taticek scored for San Antonio, which has lost eight straight and 12 of 13. San Antonio has been held to two or fewer goals in 18 of its last 19 games against the Aeros, with the lone exception a 4-3 overtime win March 3. In its last four trips to Toyota Center, San Antonio has been outscored 19-2.
Harding improved to 6-0-0 with a 1.33 gaa in his last six starts, the first Aeros netminder with six straight wins since former Calder Cup Most Valuable Player Johan Holmqvist accomplished the feat December 5-17, 2003. Harding is 6-1-0 with a 1.13 gaa against the Rampage. Since losing a 2-1 decision to San Antonio October 15, Harding has won his last six decisions against the Rampage with a miniscule 0.98 gaa.
The 20-year-old rookie netminder is 21-16-2 overall with a 1.98 gaa fourth best in the entire AHL. At Toyota Center, he is 11-3-1 with a 1.68 gaa and has allowed only five third-period goals.
The Aeros have only two regulation losses in the last 23 meetings (15-2-4-2), and they had points in each of the last 11 meetings this season (9-0-2-0) while outscoring them 42-18 overall.
It was an emotional 12th and final meeting between Houston and San Antonio, as the teams came together at center ice for verbal jabs during warm-ups a night after combining for 12 major penalties in a 2-1 Aeros win.
Right off the opening face-off, Houstons Derek Boogaard returning from a seven-game injury absence duked it out with Grant McNeill ,who earned two fighting majors and a high-sticking major last night. The bout brought the crowd to its feet.
Wallins 12th goal put Houston on the board at 7:40 of the first. Kirby Law kept a weak clear inside the zone inside the right point. He waited, then sent a centering pass to the deep slot, where Wallin completely alone tipped the puck by Scott.
Houston built a 2-0 lead on the power play with 5:26 left in the opening period, on Koivus 20th goal. Wallin left a drop pass for Pierre-Marc Bouchard between the circles. Bouchard wound up for a one-timer, but muffed the shot. But, the puck trickled right to Koivu in the low right circle, and the first-round draft pick hammered it by a diving Scott. Koivu has scored half of his 20 goals versus the Rampage, including game-winners in three of the last four meetings.
San Antonio outshot Houston 20-10 in the second period, and Harding was perfect until Taticeks goal with 5:43 remaining in the frame. Jeremy Swanson let one loose from the left point. Harding made the stop but left the rebound on the doorstep, and Taticek quickly swiped it into the top shelf for his seventh goal.
Houston turned up the heat in the third, outshooting the Rampage 12-2 to squelch any further comeback.
San Antonios only shot of the opening 15 minutes of the third came when Harding gloved a Martin Tuma one-timer from the point through traffic midway through the period.
With 3:04 left, Rampage head coach Steve Ludzik replaced Scott with Patrick DesRochers. Jeremy Reich tested him immediately, but the goalie swallowed up Reichs blistering 3-on-2 attempt from the right circle. Seconds later, DesRochers was out for the extra attacker.
Koivu fed Kyle Wanvig for an up-close, empty-netter attempt with 1:28 left, but the puck hit the crossbar. Dan Cavanaugh then appeared to make the advantage two goals with 22 seconds remaining and an empty net, but an Aeros player was ruled offsides, disallowing the goal.
Houston went 1-for-6 on the power play, while San Antonio finished 0-for-3.
The Aeros scratched Chris Heid, Erik Reitz, Maxime Fortunus, Mark Cullen, Ryan Stokes, Stephane Veilleux, David Bararuk, Patrick Traverse, Christoph Brandner, Matt Foy and Marius Holtet.
Wallin was held without a point in each game of the Aeros five-game road trip. Koivu got no points in the last four games.
Houston has assured itself of going through an entire season without losing three straight games in regulation, the first time in franchise history the Aeros have done that.
The Aeros have won four straight at home and are 5-0-0-1 in their last six.
Harding has allowed two goals or less in 12 of his last 15 starts, and hes yielded only one goal in five of the six games during his winning streak.
Houston improved to 26-4-2-1 when scoring first.
Wallins second point moved him to 109 in his Aeros career, past Graeme Townshend for 16th on the teams all-time list. Wanvig is 15th with 111.
The Aeros improved to 11-1-0-0 when Wallin scores a goal, and 22-8-1-0 when he has a point. They are 11-3-0-1 when Koivu scores, and 22-6-1-1 when he has a point.