As this team has revealed itself to those of us on the outside of it, this is the kind of game I've come to believe is in them.
And I mean that with both the good and the bad. The bad being that terrible few minutes at the end of the second when, suddenly, everyone in a bomber sweater just. stopped. skating. and Khudobin was having some pretty rotten puck-luck being the only one on the ice still playing. As I tweeted, that period just couldn't end fast enough.
The bad also being nearly 13 minutes of the third period without a single shot on goal. And usually we see the shot count doing something unusual and think, "Oh, the shot counter is asleep at the wheel, right?" But not last night. It seemed accurate, which is pretty scary.
But the good, and what is really at the heart of this team, is the resiliency and maturity to not panic, not grip, and not get discouraged, but instead, to regroup in the second intermission, continue to take advantage of chances, even if they were few and far between, and keep working together and standing up for each other.
Moments that stood out to me as critical:
The Power Play Goal
As Andrew said, it had to happen eventually, so you know it's coming, but it still feels really good to get it done. And carrying over from Thursday, it was especially nice that it came from Noreau's shot from the point that Zingoni deflected in the net. Noreau is on a monkey-shedding spree!
With no shots for 13 minutes in the third, there are a couple of options:
A) San Antonio finally pots the tying goal when the Aeros and Khudobin just can't withstand the onslaught any more.
B) SA goalie Tordjman gets flat and bored not seeing any shots and isn't sharp when he finally does see some shots.
Luckily for the Aeros, the universe gave them option B and DiSalvatore got the insurance goal and, if you're like me, you started to think, "Okay, maybe this team isn't going to choke away a 3-0 lead like SOME teams *cough*lastyearsAeros*cough*"
So, Kalus sweeps across the front of the crease with the puck knocking a Rampage defenseman into Tordjman. They both end up in a pile to one side of the net, Tordjman on his butt, presumably waiting for the goaltender interference whistle that never came. Kalus picks up the puck and just wraps it around the other post while Tordjman and his d-man sit there in disbelief.
You're looking at the ref waiting for a wave-off or something, but nope. I'm no ref and I'm no expert, but gosh, how is that not goalie interference? At least, if I'm the goalie there, I'm expecting a call (but hopefully have the wherewithal to still play to the whistle). Are we not talking about this because it's the Aeros who prevailed there? Or because I'm wrong?
But at that point, it's over and you can see it in San Antonio's body language. Stick a fork in 'em.
Did the Aeros lose any of those fights last night? Punch of the night had to be Stoner's clocking of Bodie. Hard headed guy, that Bodie. His running around didn't help his team too much, I don't think. Might want to just play some hockey next time. But then again, the rivalry blood was boiling at a good clip last night, so maybe it's just one of those things.
Anyway, good win, if a bit sketchy at times. John's quotes from Khudobin were great and really reflect what I saw in his game. He was so good in the third and deserves props for having the mental fortitude to come back and be a wall after a couple of quick goals at the end of the second. Always good to get a little break to regroup after something like that.
Aeros are @ Lake Erie Friday and Saturday and then turn around and head home to play an afternoon game against the Chicago Wolves (special guest stars Chris Chelios and Manny Legace) on Sunday. Five days off is never good and Lake Erie and Chicago are no slouches, so this will be a great test of where this team really is.
Assuming I don't get a better offer, I'll be tweeting the games on Friday and Saturday for those who don't have AHL Live, so be sure you're following @3rdintermission on Twitter.