Mannino lifts Wolves past Aeros on birthday

Chicago built a 3-0 lead after the second period, and goaltender Peter Mannino celebrated his 27th birthday in style as the Wolves cruised to a 3-1 road win over Houston on Thursday afternoon at the Toyota Center.

Mannino finished with 34 saves on 35 shots and was headed toward his first shutout of the season before Aeros forward Jon DiSalvatore scored on the power play with 3:12 to play in regulation.

Mannino, who stood tall during a second period in which his club was outshot 15-4 yet outscored Houston 2-0, improved to 14-13-3 in 33 appearances and has turned aside 58 of 61 shots (.951) over his last two outings.

Andre Deveaux, Noah Welch, and Riley Holzapfel tallied goals for the Wolves, with Welch’s first of the season at 12:24 of the second period standing up as the game-winner.

Forwards Jason Krog and Jared Ross chipped in two assists apiece for Chicago, which improved to 3-1-0-0 in its last four games and moved within two points of Texas for the Western Conference’s crossover playoff spot.

The Aeros, who hold a tenuous one-point lead atop the West Division, dropped their second consecutive 3-1 decision after losing by that score on Sunday vs. Peoria.