Aeros head to break with 5-2 win over Toronto
HOUSTON - C Nathan Smith scored two goals and added a helper, D J.P. Testwuide netted a goal and two assists and D Maxim Noreau also had two assists as the Houston Aeros (20-17-6-1) bested the Toronto Marlies (15-19-5-2) 5-2 in front of the season's second largest crowd of 8,843 at Toyota Center Saturday night. G Wade Dubielewicz made 30 saves to even his record at 9-9-0 on the season. G Joey MacDonald (4-12-0) saved seven of 10 shots on goal in 25:01 to get saddled with the loss. G Andrew Engelage saved 14 of 16 in 34:59 of relief.
"It was an important win going into the break because you want to rest and recover," said Head Coach Kevin Constantine. "Sometimes it's hard to do that on a three-game losing streak, that wouldn't have been fun."
Toronto came out firing in the first period outshooting Houston 11-8, but it was the Aeros who scored the period's only goal. With Marlies RW Kyle Rogers in the box for charging, Smith threw the puck on net where RW J-M Daoust was there to control the loose puck. With a move to his right across the crease, he flicked the puck over the glove of MacDonald and batted it home for his 14th of the year at 17:21.
The Aeros had five powerplays in the middle frame, but even strength is where they did their damage. LW Matt Kassian broke free up the left wing side on an Aeros odd-man rush. Kassian threw on the breaks at the left dot and found the net for his second goal of the season 2:12 into the session. At the 5:01 mark Smith took a backhand feed from RW Duncan Milroy behind the Marlies' cage and sent the puck top shelf for the goal and a 3-0 lead.
Toronto would then pull MacDonald in favor of Engelage and just 2:32 later Smith added to the Aeros' lead with his second of the night and seventh of the campaign. Testwuide fired a point bid on net where Smith took the rebound to his backhand and slipped it past the left pad to give the Aeros a 4-0 lead. With three points on the night, Smith tallied his third multi-point game in an Aeros sweater. It's his first three-point game since recording a pair of goals and an assist for Manitoba against the Marlies March 3, 2007.
"It was nice to see [Smith] get points," said Constantine. "He does so much for our team, powerplay, penalty kill, and every important job, and when people put that much effort into a team you want to see them succeed."
The Marlies got on the board 32 seconds into the final stanza off the stick of RW Greg Scott then tallied their second marker at 15:06 from LW Kyle Calder. With 3:01 remaining D Brandon Rogers was called for slashing and the Aeros were forced to kill their seventh penalty of the night to keep their two-goal lead. Houston did just that and more when Testwuide and Irmen played a give-and-go on a two-man rush and it was Testwuide who lit light the lamp to seal it for Houston. It's Testwuide's second multi-point game of the season and first career three-point game.
Toronto outshot the Aeros 32-26 on the night. Houston went 1-for-10 on the powerplay while the Marlies went 0-for-7. The Aeros ended a season high three-game winless streak and extended their home point streak to five games.
Noreau and G Anton Khudobin will head to the 2010 Time Warner Cable All-Star Classic in Portland, ME, Tuesday, 5:00 p.m. CST at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The Skills Competition will be televised Monday at 7:00 p.m. (CST) on FS Houston. The All-Star Game will then be televised live Tuesday, 5:00 p.m. (CST) on FS Houston.
The Aeros return to regular season action when they make their first trip to Abbotsford, BC to take on the Heat. Game time is set for 9:30 p.m. CST from the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. Watch the game live on ahllive.com and listen to Joe O'Donnell's call on 1070 AM-KNTH. Follow the interactive in-game blog on aeros.com.
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