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The San Antonio Rampage’s third-period comeback effort fell short as they were downed by the Houston Aeros, 5-3, at the Toyota Center on Saturday night.
With the loss, the Rampage’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot remained at one.
After a scoreless first period, Houston struck for four goals in a span of 7:39 to take a commanding 4-0 lead.
Jeff Taffe gave the Aeros a 1-0 advantage with a power-play score 22 seconds into the second frame. He banged home the rebound of a point shot past Rampage backstop Jacob Markstrom for his 18th goal of the season.
At the 2:50 mark of the second Joel Broda wristed a shot over Markstrom’s left shoulder to tally his 13th marker of the year and gave Houston a 2-0 edge.
Just 29 seconds following the Broda score, Kris Foucault took a slap shot that beat Markstrom to his left to hand the Aeros a 3-0 lead with his 13th goal of 2011-12. Dov Grumet-Morris replaced Markstrom in net following the third Houston goal.
Chad Rau capped the Houston scoring spree 8:01 into the middle stanza with a power-play goal that widened the Aeros advantage to 4-0. He recorded his 14th marker of the season after a taking a feed in the slot from Foucault and beating Grumet-Morris between the legs.
In the last minute of the period Bracken Kearns put the Rampage on the board at 4-1. He received a pass from Bill Thomas at the side of the Houston net and muscled the puck past Aeros netminder Matt Hackett for his 22nd goal of the campaign.
Greg Rallo cut the San Antonio deficit to 4-2 at the 12:32 mark of the third period. He beat two Houston defenders to a loose puck and fired a low shot past Hackett to tally his 21st goal of the year.
Rallo registered his second goal of the contest nearly four minutes later when he deflected a Nolan Yonkman point shot by Hackett to make the count 4-3 in favor of Houston.
Justin Fontaine ended the Rampage’s comeback hopes with an empty-net goal with 51 seconds remaining in the contest. His 16th goal of 2011-12 put Houston up 5-3.
Hackett made 19 saves on 22 Rampage shots to pick up his 19th win of the season. Markstrom turned aside 15 of the 18 Aeros attempts he faced prior to exiting the game while Grumet-Morris stopped seven of eight Houston shots.
The Rampage (40-30-3-2) cap the regular season tomorrow with a 3:30 p.m. (CST) home contest against the Oklahoma City Barons. San Antonio will be celebrating Fan Appreciation Day at the AT&T Center as they give away over 9,000 prizes totaling a value of over $50,000. To purchase tickets, visit sarampage.com today!