Only able to muster one goal against Aeros netmider Anton Khudobin, the San Antonio Rampage fell to Houston by a 3-1 score on Friday at Toyota Center.
San Antonio (28-26-3-6) entered Friday’s matchup 4-3-2-0 overall and 2-2-1-0 on the road against Houston in 2009-10.
Houston entered the contest winless in their last four (0-3-0-1) overall and 1-3-0-0 in their last four games against the Rampage.
On Friday, the Aeros took an early 1-0 lead at the 14:41 mark of the first on a power-play goal by center Nathan Smith. Working on the power play, right wing Jon DiSalvatore gained control of the puck at the top of the left faceoff circle before sending a pass to forward Duncan Milroy in the left corner. Milroy then fired a shot on net from the corner that bounced off Rampage netminder Josh Tordjman’s stick to Smith in the crease, where the center poked in the rebound.
Intercepting a turnover by a Rampage defenseman in the high slot of the San Antonio zone, Houston right wing Carson McMillan found Milroy at the top of the left faceoff circle before the left wing fired a quick shot that bounced off Tordjman’s pads to Smith in the slot. Wasting little time, Smith sent the rebound under a diving Tordjman to increase the Houston lead to 2-0 only 4:47 into the second frame.
With 4:11 remaining in the second, DiSalvatore added to the Houston lead when he received a pass from Aeros defenseman Jamie Fraser on the right post and one-timed the puck past Tordjman to put San Antonio in a 3-0 hole.
To start the final session, Rampage head coach Ray Edwards pulled Tordjman and replaced him with Miika Wiikman, who was acquired by the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday from the New York Rangers.
The Rampage finally found the scoreboard at the 16:54 mark of the third when rookie center MacGregor Sharp received a feed from left wing Jeff Hoggan on the left boards in the neutral zone, drove into the Houston zone and deked Houston goaltender Anton Khudobin to the right before finishing between the five-hole to prevent a shutout.
However, Sharp’s goal proved to be too little, too late, as Khudobin closed the door on the Rampage in the short time remaining in regulation.
Khudobin made 22 saves on 23 San Antonio shots for the victory, while Tordjman and Wiikman combined to stop 27 of 30 Houston shots in the loss.
The Rampage were 0-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill in the contest.
San Antonio will return home to the Alamo City to host the Rockford IceHogs in a 7:00 p.m. matchup on Saturday at the AT&T Center.