Aeros end Allstate futility

Mark Cullen tied the game with 10:06 left in regulation, Houston didn’t allow a shot in the third period and Junior Lessard scored the deciding goal in the 10th round of the shootout, as the Aeros rallied from three goals down to earn a hard-fought 5-4 decision over the Chicago Wolves at Allstate Arena on Saturday night.

The victory snapped Houston’s 11-game winless streak (0-6-3-2) in Chicago, dating back to January 15, 2003.

Josh Harding made 17 saves and was 9-of-10 in the shootout. AHL All-Star Mikko Koivu and Marius Holtet scored seven seconds apart in the second period for Houston, which erased a 3-0 deficit.

Houston moved into the All-Star break in fourth place with 52 points, breaking out of a tie with Grand Rapids and San Antonio. Third-place Cincinnati is four points up on the Aeros, who have five games in hand on the Ducks.

The Aeros and Wolves went to overtime for the 14th time in their last 24 meetings, including four of six overall this season.

Kari Lehtonen, who is also heading to Manchester this weekend, made nine saves in relief of Michael Garnett, who was injured when he took a skate to the upper body on Cullen’s game-tying goal.

Attendance was 14,912.

Elsewhere on Saturday:
Jeff Hamilton scored with 12 seconds left in regulation as Hartford improved to 16-1-0-1 in its last 18 home games with a 3-2 win over Portland… Pierre Parenteau had a goal and an assist in Cincinnati’s 3-1 win over Syracuse… Eric Meloche and Patrick Sharp scored within the first 2:27 of the contest and Philadelphia rode out a 2-1 win over Norfolk… Michel Ouellet hit the 30-goal mark for the second straight season and helped Wilkes-Barre/Scranton past Lowell, 2-1… Hannu Toivonen was less than seven minutes away from his fourth consecutive shutout, but Providence still prevailed with a 2-1 shootout win over Springfield… Mike Souza recorded two goals and an assist and Hershey scored four times in the third period to knock off Bridgeport, 6-2… Steve Ott scored a pair of goals for Hamilton in a 5-2 win over Rochester… Kyle Wellwood scored one goal and assisted on two others as St. John’s rolled past Manitoba, 6-1… Anton Volchenkov dished out three assists as Binghamton trounced Albany, 7-0… Two Jerred Smithson goals helped Milwaukee over Utah, 4-1.