From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Monday, March 7, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 3, Griffins 1Official Box Score
ST. PAUL, Minnesota
Dan Cavanaugh snapped a 28-game goal drought with his fifth career two-goal game and Josh Harding made 25 saves for his third straight win, as the Houston Aeros defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-1 in a key West Division matchup in front of 12,204 at Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild. Matt Foy also scored and Marc Cavosie tied a career-high with two assists as fourth-place Houston moved six points clear of Grand Rapids and within a point of third-place Cincinnati with three games in hand. Click here
later tonight for interviews with Todd McLellan and Harding, plus video highlights.
The Aeros (29-21-6-3), who bettered their 2003-04 win mark in their 59th game, are in Chicago on Wednesday and Milwaukee on Thursday before returning home to face the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday at 7:35 p.m. Houston is unbeaten in regulation in its last six games (4-0-2-0).
Joey MacDonald turned aside 26 shots and Ryan Barnes scored for Grand Rapids, which has lost two straight after a 4-0-1-0 stretch.
Harding earned his first three-game winning streak while lowering his gaa to 1.99. Harding, 14-12-1, now ranks fifth in the AHL in gaa and second among rookies to Lowells Cam Ward (1.95).
Both goalies were dominant in the first period, especially Harding, who made 11 stops. Pace picked up considerably in the second.
Aeros defenseman John Erskine made quick work of Peter Vandermeer only 20 seconds into the period, and continued to pound on the Griffin as they fell to the ice.
The Griffins solved Harding on their 12th shot, with 6:22 gone by in the second. Kip Miller gathered a loose puck behind the cage and fed an unmarked Barnes sliding in from the far point. Barnes ripped a low shot under Harding for his fifth goal of the season.
Grand Rapids has scored first in five of the six meetings this season.
With the teams 4-on-4 with 4:13 left in the second, the Aeros broke in 3-on-2, but Stephane Veilleux missed an open net from a bad angle low in the left circle. Less than a minute later, Wild No. 1 prospect Mikko Koivu rang a blister of a shot off the post.
The Aeros atoned for those misses with 2:06 remaining in the period, as Cavanaugh got his fourth goal first since November 19. Derek Boogaard won a battle behind the net, and Cavosie skated out, faked a wraparound and threaded a pass to Cavanaugh, who finished from the left doorstep.
Seconds later, Harding stoned Miller on a mini-breakaway.
Erskine went off for interference early in the second, but it was the Aeros that found the scoreboard as Cavanaugh notched his second of the night. MacDonald stopped Cavosies original attempt, but Cavanaugh slid the rebound under MacDonald as a heap of bodies crashed to the ice.
The Aeros defense went to work from there, continuing the stellar third period play. Houston has allowed a league-best 38 third-period goals, and none in the last four games.
Foy added an insurance goal with 5:09 left, when he walked through the low slot and roofed a backhander over MacDonald for his career-best 12th goal of the season after a nifty give-and-go with Rickard Wallin, who became the 21st player in team history to reach the 100-point plateau.
Less than a minute later, MacDonald took out an Aero in the corner, leading to a lengthy Boogaard fight with Vandermeer, drawing perhaps the biggest ovation of the evening. MacDonald picked up an interference penalty.
Houston went 0-for-7 on the power play, while Grand Rapids finished 0-for-3.
Cavanaugh nearly made it 1-0 midway through the first, but he slipped a shot just wide of the far post after a nifty toe-drag move.
MacDonald then made a terrific kick save after Pierre-Marc Bouchard wowed the crowd with a between the legs move. Bouchard fed a wide-open Todd Reirden at the right point, but MacDonald extended fully to make the save.
Harding was at his best late in the first with Boogaard in the box for slashing, making five saves in the span.
The Aeros scratched Chris Heid, Erik Reitz, Bill Kinkel, Junior Lessard, Christoph Brandner and Marius Holtet.
Home teams improved to 14-6-1-0 in AHL games in NHL buildings this season.
Boogaards assist was his third, one off his total from 2003-04.
Cavanaughs last two-goal game came April 2, 2004, versus Cincinnati.
The Aeros are a perfect 4-0-0-0 when Cavanaugh has a goal.
Cavosie notched his fourth career two-assist game, and first since January 24, 2004. Tonight was his sixth career two-point game. He has six assists in his last nine games.
Twelve of Houstons 29 wins have come after they trailed at some point during the game.
Cavanaugh is next on the 100-point watch with 94.
Harding had won two straight games on four occasions, but had never stretched it to three until his current run, in which hes allowed only four goals.