It finally happened. The unthinkable. The unbelievable. The Aeros won a game in the shootout, coming back from a 4-1 second period deficit to defeat the Lake Erie Monsters 5-4.
That's right. You read me correctly. The Aeros won a game, at home, in the shootout.
The Aeros took the early lead when David McIntyre made a great play from down low and put the puck in at 6:56 of the first. But things quickly fell apart as Lake Erie scored three unanswered first period goals, the first coming at 12:39 and the second goal coming at 13:47 on an own-goal when Chay Genoway proceeded to pass the puck to Matt Hackett and Hackett muffed the play and knocked the puck into his own goal. Luke Walker got the third goal at 18:31 when he went backhand on Hackett.
"Tonight's theme was weather the storm," Torchetti said. "I told them I don't mind weathering a storm, but not our own. We created our own storm. That's the thing. Once we get this thing going right, we'll be heading in the right direction."
The Monsters scored early in the second to make it 4-1, and for most of the second the Aeros resembled the Keystone Kops out on the ice as nothing, nothing, appeared to be going right. Missed passes. Overskating the puck. Not taking shots when they were there and taking shots when they didn't have them. But Chay Genoway struck on the power play with a rocket from the right circle at 18:54 to make it 4-2 going into the second intermission.
The Aeros made it 4-3 at the 11:03 mark when Jon DiSalvatore faked out Lake Erie's goalie Gerald Coleman, passing the puck to Jeff Taffe at the last moment who put the puck into the wide open net. And Kris Foucautl tied it at 14:29 on a fluke, when down below the red goal line, he attempted to pass the puck up across ice to one of his teammates, only to have the puck bounce off of Coleman and into the net.
"Good things are happening," Torchetti said. "They came out -- it was kind of a weird first period. We were outshooting them eight to two and a couple of instances and the pucks in the net. They did a good job executing on the power play. Our penalty kill has to get better if we're going to be a contending team in the playoffs. Has to get better."
The Aeros had some chances to win in overtime, especially early on when Coleman made a great stop on Chad Rau. But with the crowd roaring, the Aeros came out first in the overtime and saw the impossible happen. Justin Fontaine made a fantastic move that faked Coleman out of his skates and the Aeros were suddenly up 1-0 on the shootout. Matt Hackett made some fantastic stops and the game was won when the final shooter, C.J. Stretch, buried the puck in the net for the 2-0 shootout lead and the 5-4 shootout win.
""I just went out there and tried to do it for the team," Stretch said. "There were a lot of fans here, too, so that just kind of helps you out and gets you going. I guess I just really wanted to score and it just happened."
The win was not without controversy as once again the Aeros were upset with the goal judges as Kris Foucault claimed his shootout shot went through the netting. But the goal judge ruled no goal and after the game we were rewarded with another lecture on the need for better nets in the goals -- Andrew should be following up on this later.
There was a lot of bad hockey in this game by the Aeros, especially in the second period, but for now, it doesn't matter as the Aeros actually hung on to get the win before a crowd of 13,390, the largest ever crowd to see the Aeros play at Toyota Center.
"It was like, god, I hope we don't lose in front of this crowd because they deserved it," Torchetti said. "They were great, they were loud. It's what we like playing in front of every night, that's for sure."
The Aeros return to action tomorrow at 12:05 for a game against a well-rested Milwaukee Admiral team that rolled into Toyota Center well before game time tonight.
SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:
This was the first Aeros shootout win at home this season, and only their second shootout win for the season....
David McIntyre got to enjoy scoring a goal on his birthday...
The out-of-left field trivia of the night is that Chris Clackson is an iPhone app developer, having developed while in college an iPhone app called Grocery Time that helps with budgeting, keeping track of food freshness, etc....
How many more times this season will there have to be a controversy regarding the goal judges and the goal netting before something actually gets done? From what we were hearing after the game the problem apparently is with the nets as pucks keep flying through the nets during the Toyota Center morning skates. That raises the question: just how hard can it be to get new nets? Especially nets that do what they're supposed to do and keep the puck in the goal?