TORONTO -- Jake Gardiner felt the Toronto Marlies deserved a better fate.
Nick Petersen scored in a shootout to earn Houston a 2-1 win over Toronto in AHL action Monday afternoon. But Aeros goalie Matt Hackett was the game's first star, making 25 saves for his 17th victory of the season.
Tim Connolly's shot with just over five minutes remaining in regulation was the only one to elude Hackett. Gardiner set up Connolly's goal and felt it would be the start of something good for the Marlies.
"When scored that goal, tied it 1-1, we had the momentum," Gardiner said. "I think the whole game we outplayed them, you can see it in the shots.
"I thought we played a good hockey game, their goalie played well, so did ours. I thought we were going to pull it out. It was a tough loss."
Toronto's Mike Zigomanis had an opportunity to end it with less than a minute remaining in overtime but put his shot over the net. The Marlies didn't allow a shot on goal in the extra period.
"Our team really excels 4-on-4, it seems like when it's 4-on-4 hockey, we can really fly and we've got the puck all the time," Toronto coach Dallas Eakins said. "You want to get that game over as soon as possible, you never want to see what can happen in a shootout."
Petersen earned Houston the victory when he scored in the fifth round of the shootout.
"We're in late February now, you're going to see a lot of one-goal games," Eakins said. "That's a tight-checking team, we've asked our guys to lock things down.
"I think once we got to the third though, we started to take over and any night you can give up just 14 shots, we're doing a pretty darn good job."
Toronto (26-17-5) picked up the physical play in the third and it seemed to give them life against Houston (27-19-7).
Chad Rau opened the scoring just over nine minutes into the third when his wrist shot from the slot beat Toronto goalie Drew MacIntyre.
Both teams had solid scoring chances before the third.
Houston's Justin Fontaine and Chay Genoway both put shots off the post in the second.
Toronto had an excellent chance to open the scoring in the first with a two-man power play for 1:32. Ryan Hamilton fired a Joe Colborne pass but Hackett got a pad on it. Connolly managed to beat Hackett with his point shot but the puck went off the post.