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Wolf Pack win opener; Aeros prevail

Alexandre Giroux scored two power-play goals and Jason LaBarbera made 39 saves as Hartford posted a 5-2 win over Lowell in Game 1 of their Atlantic Division semifinal series on Thursday night.

After Hartford took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, the Lock Monsters controlled the play most of the rest of the way, outshooting the Wolf Pack 34-13 over the final 40 minutes.

But Giroux buried a rebound at the 12:21 mark of the second period to put Hartford up 2-1, Jeff Hamilton converted on a breakaway to make it 3-1, and Giroux finished off a break of his own 99 seconds into the third to give Hartford a three-goal cushion.

Hamilton finished with a goal and an assist, and Jamie Lundmark and Lawrence Nycholat added two assists apiece.

Cam Ward was sharp in his pro playoff debut, making 15 saves in the first period and 24 in the game.

Chad Larose had a goal and an assist for the Lock Monsters.

Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday night in Hartford.

HOUSTON 2, CHICAGO 1 (OT)
Mikko Koivu scored 3:20 into overtime to give Houston a big 2-1 win over Chicago in Game 2 at Allstate Arena on Thursday.

The teams’ West Division semifinal series is even at one game apiece, with the scene shifting to Houston for the next three games.

Mark Cullen scored on a power play 8:34 into the contest to give the Aeros a 1-0 lead, and Mike Smith made it stand up until Joe Corvo tied the score with 9:23 left in regulation.

Smith, who backed up Josh Harding in Game 1, made 33 saves, outdueling Chicago’s Kari Lehtonen, who finished with 31 stops.