Kochan, Reitz lead way in sweep
WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Dieter Kochan made 21 saves for his first shutout of the season, Erik Reitz posted a goal and an assist and Mattias Weinhandl also scored, as the Houston Aeros completed a two-game sweep of North Division-leading Manitoba, 2-0 at MTS Centre. Houston (24-35-3-6) has won back-to-back road games for the first time since January 3-12 following a 15-game road winless streak, and back-to-back games overall for the first time since January 7-12. The Aeros won for just the third time this season (3-25-2-2) when scoring two or fewer goals.
Julien Ellis stopped 16 shots for Manitoba (39-19-7-4), which lost for just the third time in 20 games.
The Aeros return to Toyota Center on Friday to face the Rochester Americans at 7:35 p.m. Visit Aeros.com or call 1.866.GO.AEROS for tickets. Visit Aeros.com to read about how you can help Josh Harding's "Fund the Fight" on Friday.
The teams skated through a pedestrian first period, with Manitoba outshooting Houston 6-3.
Houston rookie defenseman Chris Ovington just missed an early goal, as his shot from the point deflected off Moose captain Mike Keane and off the post.
Aeros' leading scorer Matt Foy was hammered in an open ice hit by Mike Brown late in the first. With Foy bleeding all over the ice, Houston's John Scott came in and took care of Brown in a fight. Foy would return in the second period but did not play again.
The Aeros had some good chances early in the second on the ensuing three-minute power play. Ryan Hamilton had perhaps the best chance, from the left circle, but Ellis made the save with his mask.
Manitoba killed off that man advantage, but Weinhandl tallied his 14th goal at 3:51 of the second to give Houston the advantage. Weinhandl took a pass from Peter Olvecky, skated across the blueline and ripped a top shelf shot from the edge of the left circle.
The Aeros kept up the pressure - recording the period's first eight shots. Ellis was fine again, making a pair of saves on Bryan Lundbohm, who charged in 2-on-1 shorthanded.
Kochan made a nifty save on Jason Jaffray's wraparound attempt with five minutes left in the second.
Houston's Aaron Voros chipped a point-blank shot with a near open net over the crossbar late in the middle period.
Brad Moran got in alone early in the third, but Ryan Stokes took a holding penalty to prevent the goal. But it was the Aeros that scored, as Reitz took a drop pass from Danny Irmen and deposited it by Ellis for his second in as many nights and new career-high seventh goal of the season at the 4:44 mark. It was Reitz' third shorthanded tally of the season.
Manitoba's Jannik Hansen - who scored his team's lone goal Tuesday - got loose in the left circle with 3:30 left, but pushed a shot just wide.
The Moose got a late power play after a tripping call to Olvecky with 2:10 remaining. Just after that, Manitoba pulled Ellis, but a Jaffray hooking penalty ended the threat.
Houston finished 0-for-6 on the power play, while Manitoba went 0-for-7. After allowing a man advantage goal in 11 straight games, the Aeros are 18-for-18 on the penalty kill in the last three games.
Not dressing for the Aeros were Mike Madill, Curtis Murphy, Josh Olson and Joey Tetarenko.
Foy, the Aeros' leader in points (47) and goals (24), has one goal in his last 14 games.
The Aeros are 3-12-2-1 in their last 18 March games dating back to last season.
Houston improved to 6-20-2-2 this season in games in which goalie Josh Harding doesn't play. Harding remains on recall to NHL Minnesota.
Kochan earned his 12th career AHL shutout - second with Houston.
The Aeros held a third-period scoring advantage for just the fourth time in 21 games.
Jason Morgan assisted on Weinhandl's goal, his 300th point (97-203=300) in his 620th pro game.
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