Tonight’s 1-0 Houston Aeros victory over the Peoria Rivermen wasn’t the most exciting of games. But with the Aeros down three players due to injury and with Robbie Earl and Danny Irmen up with Minnesota, the Aeros weren’t exactly looking for excitement.
They were looking for the win.
So while the small crowd might not have gotten everything they wanted from the game, the team got everything they wanted. They got the win.
The Aeros dominated the time of possession in the first period, but came away with very few shots and no goals. They seemed to spend most of the second period on the penalty kill, which for the Aeros is almost always a good thing. And for most of the third period, it appeared that the two teams were going to head into overtime with the game tied at zero-zero. Then the miracles of all miracles happened. The Aeros scored on the power play.
Jon DiSalvatore fired a shot into the chest of Peoria goalie Ben Bishop and Jean-Michel Daoust pounced on the rebound to put the Aeros up 1-0 at 11:05 of the third.
“That was a grade-A chance,” Daoust said. “And I had to put it in…I’ll take one every game.”
From that point on, it was just up to Anton Khudobin and the Aeros defense to continue shutting down one of the highest scoring teams in the AHL. Which, of course, the team did. And that, Khudobin partly attributes to good luck.
“No goalie, no one goalie can play without luck,” he said. “I don’t think so.”
The penalty kill was, once again, the team’s strong point, drawing compliments afterward from Khudobin and Kevin Constantine.
“We just have to stay in our house,” Khudobin said. “We have to block the shots. And play our style. What coach Constantine says to us we have to do.”
And after 19 games, the Aeros now have a record of 10-9-0-0 (20 points). Amazingly, the Aeros now sit alone in second place of the West Division, but a staggering 10 points behind the first place Texas Stars. They return to action at the Toyota Center on Friday night at 7:05 against the Milwaukee Admirals.
SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:
For just a moment, before you do anything else, look at the Aeros record. Through 19 games, they have yet to lose a game in overtime or the shootout. And think back to last season. I exaggerate a bit, but wasn’t their record at this point last year something like 4-6-3-6?
Fielding a full roster was a bit of a stretch for Constantine tonight. J.P. Testwuide, Cody Almond, and Andy Hilbert are still out with injuries. Danny Irmen and Robbie Earl are with Minnesota.
“We played every healthy body we have tonight,” Constantine said. “Including two natural defensemen at forward between [Jamie] Fraser and [Brandon] Rogers. So it’s just kind of all-hands-on-deck.”
Constantine thinks one or both of the guys up with the Wild will be back soon, but Testwuide, Almond, and Hilbert are still probably out until the end of this month.
Tonight’s game was a meeting between one of the league’s best plays with Peoria (17-72 coming into the game) and one of the league’s best penalty kills with Houston (64-68 coming into the game). And the Aeros killed five Peoria plays to win the battle.
“I thought the turning point was when Nathan Smith lost his stick, broke his stick, and was out there, and helped,” Constantine said of a second period penalty kill. “But the other three guys had to kill it on their own…I thought that was the biggest turning point of the game.”
Being as the Aeros were running out of players. And being as how players were playing out of position. And being as how Khudobin said every goalie needed some luck, I thought The Beatles song for tonight was obvious. So here’s The Beatles with “Help.”