After Wednesday morning’s skate, Tony Hrkac said that the team had to avoid making mistakes, they had to play smart, and that they had to focus on just winning this one game. Most importantly, he said, they needed to at least be tied at the end of the first period.
Things looked good for the Aeros (and for Hrkac’s prediction) when Corey Locke knocked in a rebound past Manitoba’s Cory Schneider at 1:26 of the first to put the Aeros up 1-0. But then the mistakes and dumb play began and the Moose got two goals – including another short-handed goal on the penalty kill – to grab the 2-1 lead after one period.
But the thing about the Aeros is that they just don’t quit. They came out in the second and tied the game at two-all when Corey Locke fired a cross-ice pass to John Lammers who then found Robbie Earl coming up the middle of the ice, and Earl buried the puck in the net at 13:58 of the second. Then the team got stupid again, and allowed Manitoba to score 25 seconds into the third period to take the 3-2 lead.
Enter Matt Beaudoin and Tony Hrkac.
Beaudoin took a pass from Benoit Pouliot at 13:31 of the third and slapped the puck past Schneider to tie the game at three. And seconds later, at 14:29, Beaudoin made a great play under the net to find a streaking Hrkac who tipped the puck past Scheinder to put the Aeros up 4-3.
“I got a good pass from Pouliot right outside their blue line, and I knew I had a winger going,” Hrkac said, “so I wanted to get the shot on the net for the rebound, and [Beaudoin] got the rebound, and from my angle I thought he put it in. But it went behind the net, and I just went straight for the net and he saw me and threw it out to me and I put it in the net.”
But the Aeros don’t do things the easy way. Anton Khudobin found himself badly out of position at 17:21 and Mario Bliznak got the wraparound to tie the game at four and send the game to overtime.
It was during the intermission leading to overtime that word filtered up to the press box that Khudobin had gotten injured in the third period and that Nolan Schaefer would be coming out to take over at goal.
“I just didn’t want to let the team down,” Schaefer said. “I wanted to get in there and give them the chance to win, and I didn’t even have to do that.”
He didn’t have to do that because the Aeros came out on the attack in the overtime and at 2:01, Matt Beaudoin scored his second goal of the night (and got his fourth point) to give Houston the 5-4 lead and to keep them alive in this best of seven series with the Manitoba Moose.
“Tonight we got our bounces,” Beaudoin said after the game.
But to stand a chance at winning this series, the Aeros are going to have to keep getting the bounces. And the next chance to get the bounces will come on Friday night as the Aeros and Moose go at it in Game Five from Toyota Center.
SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:
It's going to take a bit of a miracle for the Aeros to win this series. In the entire of the AHL, only two teams have ever come back from 0-3 deficits to win a series. Those teams were the 1960 Rochester Americans and the 1989 Adirondack Red Wings.
Tony Hrkac says that in this instance, the cliche has to win out, meaning that the Aeros can't focus on winning three games. They just have to focus on the next game and the next period. "The next game is the biggest game of the year. If we lose we’re done," he says. "But we’ve got to go out there one period at a time and hopefully get the next goal. We need to build off this win. It’s a big win for us. They’re a good team. They’re not going to be rattled."
Corey Locke's first period goal tied the team record for playoff goals in one season with 11, tying Mark Freer who also scored 11 in 1999. Locke's 20 total points (11-9=20) is second all-time for playoff points in one season. He is behind only Freer who had 23 points in the 1999 season. Locke is also the AHL's points leader for this Calder Cup race.
Matt Beaudoin's four points (2-2=4) tied the Aeros' all-time playoff record. This has happened twice before, the last time being in 2001 when Shawn Carter got a goal and three assists.
"I think it was his best game of the year for us," Kevin Constantine said. "He’s been a real nice addition to our power play, but tonight he was also a really good five-on-five player, he did a little of both. It was his best game. It was good to see."
The Anton Khudobin injury was rather surprising news to those of us in the press box. It was also, it appears, rather surprising news to Constantine and the rest of the coaching staff.
"At some point in the third, I don’t know when," Constantine answered when asked when the injury occurred. "It was during the third, he did play the end of the third injured. It was something the coaching staff didn’t even really know about. But it was brought to our attention that he was hurt, so we had no choice but to put Schaefer in at the end of the game."
And while we're on the subject of goalies, it should be noted that this was the first time that Cory Schneider's ever allowed more than four goals in a playoff game for his career.
"The stat was that prior to this game he’d given up six goals in the third and we had three of them," Hrkac said. "So we knew were good in the third period. We knew we could get to them in the third, and we did that and we got them in overtime."
And I've got a note for Booker, or whatever the hell his name is. Hey, moron, when the goalie's in the net and action is about to start back up again, don't go shouting out his frigging name and trying to grab his attention. As hard as it might be for you to believe, Anton Khudobin's got more important things to focus on that your inane activities.
And to play us out tonight, I thought I would do something a little different and play a song for the Moose. So to help you get over the loss of your 10-game post season winning streak, here's John Lennon with "Nobody Told Me."