Also see… Tuesday’s East Roundup
HOUSTON 2, PEORIA 1
Houston completed a four-game opening-round sweep of Peoria with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over the host Rivermen on Tuesday at Carver Arena.
The Aeros advance to take on either Texas or Milwaukee in the West Division Finals, and this marks their second trip to the division finals in the last three years. In 2009, Houston got all the way to the conference finals before falling to Manitoba.
Looking to keep its season alive, Peoria got on the board first when defenseman Nathan Oystrick potted a power play goal at 8:03 of the opening period, with Nicholas Drazenovic and T.J. Hensick earning helpers.
The Aeros responded 8:22 into the second frame on the first career Calder Cup Playoff goal by defenseman Drew Bagnall, who reached the Eastern Conference Finals last spring with Manchester.
Less than three minutes later, Patrick O’Sullivan netted his second goal of the playoffs to put Houston on top for good.
Aeros goaltender Matt Hackett earned his fourth consecutive victory with 23 saves on 24 shots in net.
Houston ousted Peoria in the first playoff round for the third time in the last six seasons and the second time by way of the sweep, which was also accomplished in 2006. The Aeros earned a seven-game triumph in 2009.
OKLAHOMA CITY 2, HAMILTON 0
Oklahoma City poured 20 of its 46 total shots on goal in the third period and finally broke through for a pair of goals en route to a much-needed 2-0 win over visiting Hamilton in Game 3 of their North Division semifinal on Tuesday.
The Barons now trail the series by a 2-1 margin, and the teams will get right back at it for Game 4 on Wednesday night at the Cox Convention Center.
Oklahoma City’s goals came from familiar faces, as Colin McDonald struck at 8:38 of the third period and Alexandre Giroux followed unassisted at the 15:59 mark. Giroux picked up an assist on the goal by McDonald, as did the third member of the Barons’ top line, Brad Moran.
McDonald and Giroux, who combined for 74 goals during the regular season, were both held without a tally in the Barons’ two losses at Hamilton to begin this series. McDonald’s 42 goals in the regular year led the entire AHL, while Giroux reached 30 goals for the seventh straight campaign.
Oklahoma City goaltender Martin Gerber made the two goals stand up and posted a 26-save shutout to preserve the victory. Hamilton’s Drew MacIntyre was saddled by the loss despite making 44 stops on 46 shots.
LAKE ERIE 2, MANITOBA 1
Veteran goaltender John Grahame stopped 39 of 40 shots in net to backstop Lake Erie to a 2-1 road win over Manitoba on Tuesday at the MTS Centre in Game 3 of the teams’ North Division semifinal.
The Monsters regained home-ice advantage and grabbed a 2-1 lead in the series, with Games 4 and 5 set for Thursday and Friday nights in Winnipeg.
Grahame surrendered a goal to Moose forward Sergei Shirokov on the game’s first shot 1:09 in, but the former Calder Cup champion (1999) and Stanley Cup champion (2004) stoned Manitoba on each of its next 39 attempts.
He made 18 saves in the second period and nine more in the third to pick up his first Calder Cup Playoff victory since leading Providence on a surprising run to the 2001 conference finals.
David Van der Gulik pulled the Monsters even with an unassisted goal only 38 seconds into the second period, and Ben Walter netted the eventual game-winner only 2:25 later. Defenseman Jonas Holos registered the lone assist on that one.
Manitoba finished with a 40-19 edge in shots on goal, and Moose goaltender Tyler Weiman made 17 stops in the losing effort.
TEXAS 3, MILWAUKEE 2 (OT)
Texas rallied from two goals down late in the third period, and Travis Morin scored at 8:44 of overtime to give the Stars a thrilling 3-2 win over visiting Milwaukee on Tuesday at the Cedar Park Center.
After falling in the series opener, the Stars have posted back-to-back victories to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven set. Game 4 will be on Wednesday night in Cedar Park.
Chris Mueller and Gabriel Bourque remained hot for the Admirals, scoring once apiece to give Milwaukee a 2-0 advantage by the 34-second mark of the third period. Mueller and Bourque have each registered three goals through the first three games of this series.
It marked the first career AHL playoff goal for Lukowich, a veteran of 658 NHL games and a 2004 Stanley Cup champion with Tampa Bay.