Happy birthday to you: Khudobin, Aeros take control


Houston rookie goaltender Anton Khudobin continued his sparkling postseason play by pitching a 27-save shutout on his 23rd birthday as the Aeros took a 2-0 win over Milwaukee on Thursday at Toyota Center. The upstart Aeros now own a commanding 3-1 lead over the first-place Admirals in the West Division Finals.

Houston can advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2003 with another home-ice victory in Game 5 on Saturday.

For the third time in four games, Houston netted the game’s first goal when Benoit Pouliot scored his first of the playoffs on the power play at 16:56 of the opening period. Marco Rosa and Brandon Rogers earned the assists.

The Aeros and Khudobin made that 1-0 advantage stand up for the remainder of the game, and Krys Kolanos sealed the victory with an empty-net tally in the closing seconds.

Milwaukee outscored the Aeros by a 12-2 margin in the third period and had several quality scoring chances, but Khudobin stood tall on his birthday en route to his seventh win of the playoffs (7-4). The 23-year-old has allowed just two goals combined in Houston’s three victories in the series.

The Admirals, who on Thursday will face elimination for the first time this postseason, have been without a goal for 81:35 worth of hockey since Ryan Jones beat Khudobin at 18:25 of the second period in their 3-1 Game 3 loss on Tuesday.

West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W3-Houston Aeros || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 30 – Houston 2, MILWAUKEE 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – MILWAUKEE 4, Houston 1
Game 3 – Tue., May 5 – HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 1
Game 4 – Thu., May 7 – HOUSTON 2, Milwaukee 0
Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Mon., May 11 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 13 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00