The Aeros and Stars battled tonight, in front of 5736 at the Toyota Center, and just as Friday’s game between the two was close, so was this one. So close, in fact, that the game went to a shootout before Jon DiSalvatore hit the lone goal for either team, giving the Aeros the 2-1 victory and increasing their record to 2-2-0-0 (4 points).
Tonight’s game belonged to the newbies, especially the fourth line which featured Peter Zingoni anchoring the wings of Cody Almond and Carson McMillan. While several of the lines featured some energy, and while DiSalvatore and Nathan Smith -- two more newbies -- had several opportunities to get scores, it was Zingoni who scored the one Aeros regulation goal, virtually shoving the puck past former Aero playoff hero Matt Climie to put the Aeros up 1-0 at the 17:26 mark of the first.
“It was a great forecheck from my linemates Cody Almond and [Carson] McMillan,” Zingoni said. “They stayed hard on the puck and got the puck to the net. [McMillan] gave me a nice little pass crossing…[Climie] made a nice initial save, and I just kind of buried my head and just kept working on it.”
The Stars tied the game at 5:11 of the second when Brad Lukowich’s shot hit off of one of Anton Khudobin’s defenders and deflected past him. But after that, Climie and Khudobin kept the offenses in check even though the Aeros had several good chances in overtime to get the score. Smith was working Climie so hard at about the 2:34 of OT that it looked like the two were going to come blows, but alas, the Aeros were unable to get the score.
Texas went first, and Khudobin easily stopped Kevin DeVergilio’s attempt. In fact, he easily stopped all of the Texas attempts, and if not for DiSalvatore getting it past Climie on the Aeros first shootout attempt, this game might still be underway.
Khudobin said after the game that the shootout was one of the best parts of his game when he was in Russia, but that it has suffered here. Tonight, however, he was solid. “I was sure I was going to stop the pucks [in the shootouts],” Khudobin said. “I was focusing on the pucks.”
The Aeros, as with last week, lost the first game of a weekend series, but came back to the win the second. And head coach Kevin Constantine noted how tough that was this weekend against the Stars.
“They’re a good team,” he said. “They’re on the road playing, and they haven’t lost a game in regulation out of four. They don’t give you much room. Getting pucks to the net is hard. We’ve got to give them some credit. They’re a very good team.”
As for his team’s play tonight, Constantine noted that they were more consistent tonight, and that while they might not have had the intensity at the start of Friday’s game, neither did they sink to the depths to which they sunk on Friday.
The Aeros will return to action next weekend when they take on the San Antonio Rampage for two games at Toyota Center on Friday and Saturday.
SOME MISCEALLANEOUS GAME NOTES:
The Aeros are still, at this point, a team in flux. The lineup for tonight’s game had some big changes, and Constantine and his staff are still trying to find the right mix of players. GM Jim Mill noted during the game that the Aeros are carrying a big roster, but that several players had been released. And Constantine told us after the game that the roster would be thinned come next week.
“We purposely held guys around longer than normal just to be real thorough in evaluation of who we want to play and who should make the team,” he said. “There’s a negative to that as it’s kind of hard to become a team and work with individual guys. The positive of that is that your decisions are better.”
Released before the game were right wing Simon Ferguson, left wing Gregg Johnson, and right wing Matt Fornataro. Mill noted with Ferguson that this really had nothing to do with his play, but just that there are a lot of veterans on the team, and that they did not foresee the Wild sending Craig Weller and Andy Hilbert down to the team. Mill stated that he liked Ferguson and that Ferguson would be one of the first guys he contacts should their be an opening on the roster.
What I don’t think either Mill or Constantine intended was that the team would be losing players to Minnesota. However, during tonight’s game in San Jose, the Wild, according to tweets from reporter Michael Russo, lost John Scott, Cal Clutterbuck, and Petr Sykora to injuries. The severity of the injuries isn’t yet known, though while Scott had returned to the bench, Clutterbuck and Sykora had not.
Once again, I was impressed by the play of the rookies. Chad Rau had a nice game on Friday, and Almond and McMillan were nice surprises. They were hitting, they were attacking the net, and they brought an energy to the game that was kind of like what Clutterbuck used to do, and kind of like the Love/Ryznar/Kassian line last season.
Peter Zingoni, the veteran who played with them, was impressed.
“We did a great job, and I give a lot of credit to them,” he said. “It’s their first pro game. They did an awesome job….It was a lot of fun playing with them….they gave a good impression for the coach and the staff.”
And just as Rau got his first professional point on Friday, McMillan got his first professional point tonight when he assisted on Zingoni’s score. Also, note, that the score sheet is wrong. Almond, not Nathan Smith, was on the ice with Zingoni and McMillan when Zingoni scored. Zingoni even credited Almond, and Almond could easily be seen behind Zingoni on the replay.
Also, my apologies to McMillan. I believe that on the little video discussion with myself and Andrew that I said Corey McMillian instead of Carson. That was a stupid mistake on my part.
I’ve got a problem, again, with the people who decided on the three stars. I’ve got no problem with Zingoni’s star, though I would have made him the third star. Matt Climie was a deserving star, but I would have made him two instead of three -- he did stop 30 of 31 game shots and four of the five shootout shots. And though Jon DiSalvatore did a nice job to get the shootout goal, I fail to understand how Khudobin, who stopped 23 of 24 game shots and all five that he faced in the shootout, could not have been given his proper recognition.
As for our video to play us out tonight, I just can’t think of anything better than “Under Pressure” from Queen and David Bowie as a little salute to the excellent goaltending from Climie and Khudobin.