Aeros 3, Rivermen 2 (OT)
Aeros 3, Rivermen 2 (OT)
Aeros lead best-of-seven series, 2-0
Official Box Score
Chris Beckford-Tseu made 32 stops and Peter Sejna scored two goals for Peoria, which fell to 1-6 at Toyota Center this season.
The Aeros have taken a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series for just the fourth time in 14 tries in team history, and they are 2-1 the previous three times. Last season, seven of the eight AHL teams to go up 2-0 advanced to the next round, with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s victory over Binghamton the lone exception.
Houston is 12-10 all-time in overtime playoff games, including 6-6 at home. Only three before has Houston played back-to-back overtime games in a playoff series. Most recently, the Aeros lost back-to-back games (Games 5 and 6) in the 2003 Western Conference Finals. This also marks the first time the Aeros have won two overtime games in the same playoff series.
The Aeros got the first four shots of the extra session, but Beckford-Tseu was unwavering.
Morgan broke through Curtis Murphy 5:30 into overtime, but Harding made a blocker save.
Houston’s Erik Reitz launched a rocket at Beckford-Tseu two minutes later, but the rookie kicked out his right pad.
The Aeros got Foy’s game-winner with 8:08 left in overtime. Peter Olvecky skated out from behind the net into the low left circle and snapped a shot on net. The rising shot went off Foy and the post and into the cage.
A dramatic third period set up the extra session.
Lundbohm didn’t score in the final 23 regular-season games, but he got the Aeros’ comeback from a two-goal deficit started with a goal 1:56 into the third period in Friday’s 5-4 overtime victory.
Tonight, Lundbohm waited just a bit longer, scoring with 2:04 gone into the third to give the Aeros a 2-1 lead.
Reitz flipped the puck into the zone from center, and it bounced off the end boards to a cutting Lundbohm ahead of the pack. Lundbohm ripped a shot by Beckford-Tseu. The goal improved the Aeros to 10-1-0-0 this season when Lundbohm scores a goal.
Harding made his best save of the night with 13:14 left in regulation. Mike Zigomanis and Lee Stempniak, a duo which combined for six points Friday, skated in 2-on-1. Stempniak, in the left circle, saucered a pass for a cutting Zigomanis, who redirected the puck on net. But Harding made the save while falling backwards, and got help from Reitz to cover up the puck. Lundbohm had one career playoff goal in 10 games heading into the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Peoria soon after got a power play thanks to a holding call on Joey Tetarenko, but Harding first got a pad on Jay McClement’s shot from the right doorstep, and then covered up the rebound with his glove with Sejna breathing down his neck.
Stempniak got loose down low with the teams 4-on-4 with 5:45 left, but Harding got a piece of the puck with his arm. But just 16 seconds later, Sejna tallied his second of the game off the ensuing faceoff. Mike Stuart’s shot from the right point got knocked down in front, and Sejna lifted the rebound over Harding.
Aeros veteran defenseman Scott Ferguson had a great chance from Kirby Law with 40 seconds left, but Beckford-Tseu kicked out his right pad to just get a piece of the shot.
Both teams held serve in the waning seconds, sending Game 2 to overtime.
Houston finished 1-for-8 on the power play, while Peoria went 1-for-9.
Beckford-Tseu kept the game scoreless 5:30 into the first, when with the Aeros shorthanded, Lundbohm headmanned a pass for a streaking Josh Olson. Olson tried to go under the netminder with a backhander, but the rookie made the save. Peoria didn’t get a shot on their early power play.
The Aeros followed with back-to-back power plays, including 16 seconds of a 5-on-3, but they couldn’t solve Beckford-Tseu.
Peoria didn’t get its first shot of the game until the 9:30 mark, when Morgan broke in 2-on-1 but Harding made the save. But from there, the Rivermen notched the game’s next seven shots before allowing the last five of the period.
Aeros rookie defenseman Shawn Belle made an alert play with 7:25 remaining in the first, clearing a loose puck from the crease.
Houston rookie Patrick O’Sullivan just missed the net three times on a late power play, which was more like a 5-on-3 when Jon DiSalvatore gave his stick to Beckford-Tseu after the rookie lost his. Beckford-Tseu also covered up Westrum’s right circle blast late in the man advantage.
The Rivermen got a full minute of 5-on-3 time early in the second, and just after the Aeros killed it off, O’Sullivan dipsey-dooed in front of Beckford-Tseu and rang a shot off the crossbar.
Harding robbed DiSalvatore on a shorthanded breakaway 6:30 into the middle period. DiSalvatore blocked O’Sullivan’s shot from the center point and raced way ahead of the pack. DiSalvatore tried to go low, but Harding stood his ground to make the pad save.
Peoria got a 2-on-1 shorthanded break two minutes later, but Harding cut off the angle on Sejna’s bullet from the right circle.
Houston snapped a streak of 45 consecutive failed power play chances against Peoria with Westrum’s first of his eight-game, post-season career with 6:51 left in the second, after Morgan got called for slashing well behind the play. Law tried to get the puck in deep along the left wing boards, but it deflected off a Peoria player’s stick into the high slot. Westrum caught the puck, skated into the left circle and roofed a shot over Beckford-Tseu’s shoulder.
A minute later, O’Sullivan broke in alone shorthanded, but Beckford-Tseu made a shoulder save.
Sejna got the Rivermen even with 4:54 remaining in the second, with Ferguson off for cross checking. McClement fed Sejna deep in the right circle, and the former Hobey Baker winner slid a centering pass that banked off Harding and into the net.
Peoria had some 4-on-3 time late in the second, but Harding kicked out two Mike Glumac bullets from the left circle on the Rivermen’s best chances.
O’Sullivan set up Law in the left circle with Houston on a power play in the opening seconds of the third, but Beckford-Tseu went post-to-post to make the save. He also kicked out a Murphy drive from the left point.
Not dressing for the Aeros were Miroslav Kopriva, A.J. Thelen, Colin Peters, Bill Kinkel, Clayton Stoner and Brendan Bernakevitch.
This marks the first time since the 2003 Calder Cup Finals that each of Houston’s first two games in a series were decided by one goal.
Houston is 27-2-0-0 this season when Westrum scores a goal, including an 18-0-0-0 home mark.