Poor Yann Danis had to be at his very best tonight, and he was, against the onslaught that started from the opening faceoff and didn't end until the shootout. Out-shooting the Barons 39-19 in regulation and then 6-1 (thanks to a very strong, but fruitless, power play).
I felt like the Aeros challenged Danis a little bit less thoroughly than the Barons challenged Hackett in the shootout (not a softball in the bunch and he was magnificent on all four saves), yet they still scored twice. Granlund's shot just sort of drifted in after the initial save, and Phillips' goal... well, yeah, that was a filthy goal.
Isn't it interesting how creative Phillips is in the shootout? He's having to learn to really step back and play a defensive game, where he was a scoring stud in junior, and it's a big adjustment. But man, that scoring stud stuff never goes away. The guy can build a career as just a shootout specialist if he can do that to NHL goalies.
Anyway, I digress, but if you were there, you can't blame me, right? It was an outstanding, fun game, made even more unbelievable by the fact that both teams were playing their third game in three days. Normally that's a recipe for sloppy hockey, but this game was nothing like that.
Among the other superlatives: Rob Mignardi's first goal as an Aero (pictured here), and you could see the delight on his teammates faces in the goal celebration. I love those moments. They're what hockey is about and it warmed my cold, dark, goal-hating goaltender heart.
|This is about the exact moment I knew we were going to see teddy bears|
raining down from the stands - photo by Morris Molina
But the kid they call "Granny" scored an important goal late in the second to send the Aeros into the third with a tie and enough "we can do this" mojo to carry them through Arcobello's go-ahead goal midway through the third. And then he scored what was essentially the game winner in the shootout.
Just a lot of good hockey from the Aeros tonight, and despite a broadening gap between Charlotte in first and Houston in second this weekend, they did keep 3 out of 6 points. Moreover, they're showing a mental toughness, digging deep in what was by far their best third-in-three game, coming back from a deficit twice. These are the nice things you want to see in your team's development process.
As I mentioned on Twitter earlier, I wish I could go back and re-watch it without the need to write about it after. It felt like a pretty special game with a lot of special players on both sides of the puck. Good on you if you got to be there and just soak it in.
Moreover, as the last home game until after Christmas, hopefully everybody got their hockey fix for a while. The boys head to beautiful Cleveland later this week to try and slay the Monsters of Lake Erie on Thursday and Saturday.