Evening from Wayzata, where I'm watching playoff hockey.
Speaking of playoffs, HIFK swept Espoo for the Finnish Elite League championship. Wild first-rounder Mikael Granlund tied teammate Juha-Pekka Haataja for the postseason scoring lead with 16 points in 15 games.
Next up for Granlund? He's expected to join Mikko Koivu for Finland in the world championships in Slovakia. Brent Burns and Cal Clutterbuck will play for Canada, while Martin Havlat and Marek Zidlicky are healthy enough to play for the Czech Republic.
Also, your Houston Aeros have taken a commanding 3-0 series lead over Peoria in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
From the Aeros:
AEROS POSTGAME REPORT
APRIL 18, 2011: HOU 5, PEO 3
PEORIA, Ill. --- Colton Gillies scored twice in the third period to help lift the Houston Aeros to a 5-3 win over the Peoria Rivermen in Game 3 of the American Hockey League’s West Division Semifinals on Monday night at Carver Arena.
Gillies broke a 3-3 tie at 11:53 of the third period to give Houston their first lead of the game and then added another goal at 15:31 to help cement the victory.
Chad Rau and Casey Wellman each delivered a goal and an assist for the Aeros, who took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with the Rivermen. Matt Hackett stopped 12 shots in goal for Houston as the Aeros scored four unanswered goals for the second consecutive game.
Peoria stormed out of the gates with goals from Akim Aliu at 19 seconds and T.J. Hensick at 9:49 of the first period. The Aeros made it a 2-1 game just 48 seconds into the middle period on Wellman’s first playoff goal, but Hensick regained the two-goal Peoria lead at 3:41 on the power play.
Jon DiSalvatore followed up at 9:43 to pull Houston within a goal and then Rau, with the primary assist from Wellman, evened the score at 3-3. Wellman corralled the puck after a Peoria turnover and drop-passed it to the trailing Rau, who blasted it past Peoria netminder Jake Allen after streaking in from the neutral zone.
The series resumes with Game 4 at Peoria on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. Games 6 and 7 will be at Toyota Center, if necessary, on Friday, April 22 and Sunday, April 24.
The Rivermen scored first for the third straight game… The Aeros out shot Peoria 10-1 in the second period… Gillies tied a franchise playoff high with his two-goal game… Houston is now 11-3 overall against the Rivermen in the postseason with a 5-2 road record… This is the third time in franchise history that the Aeros have gone up 3-0 in a best-of-seven series. They are 3-0 in series when doing so and are 2-1in Game 4 in that situation… Opponents are 9-6 all-time when facing elimination and 7-4 on the road.
West Division Semifinal Game D
April 19 at Peoria, 7:05 p.m.
Gillies (11:53, 3rd)
HOU: Hackett (12/15, W)
PEO: Allen (25/30, L)
HOU leads 3-0 (Best-of-7)