Another day, another lumpy Oklahoma City Barons defensive performance. This time the team falls to the Houston Aeros, who have defensive problems all their own, in a 6-4 victory in OKC Friday night.
The game began with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Justin Schultz continuing their better-than-AHL play, but there were others willing to contribute. Magnus Paaajrvi, Tyler Pitlick, and the sometimes scratched Tanner House, all wanted to make a statement early. House, in particular, had two really strong shifts in a row with mighty checks, and great thwarting of the opposition scoring threats. Paaajrvi and Pitlick were quickened from the get go, and did little to slow their roll.
Period one was tough on the goaltenders, and great for goal scoring. Charlie Coyle opened the game with a long ranging wrap around goal that danced on Danis’ stick side, and trickled in. Magnus Paajarvi took a long distance power play shot that went just to the right Aeros tender, Matt Hackett. Justin Schultz would create a chance on the right win wall, hand it off to Dane Byers, who then passed it to the tip of Tanner House’s stick, and into the Houston goal. Aeros right winger, Justin Fontaine, added a power play goal to his teams total as he tips in a Jonas Brodin point shot. With the first period winding down, Paajarvi wheeled the puck behind the net, spun and backhanded the goal towards the Aeros goal. Mark Arcobello would work some magic, and somehow swat the puck in net as it pinballed around momentarily. The Barons would end the period with a 3-2 lead despite having only 7 shots to the Aeros 13.
The second period began a nasty streak that we assumed might arrive in divisional play. The Aeros were able to tie the game on a power play goal by Mikael Granlund, who stole the puck off Taylor Fedun. Carson McMillan would put the Aeros on top towards the end of the second period. Sprinkled into the period was a check to the head, and a semi-interesting fight. The Barons, not quite done, would add a nice goal by Arcobello to even the game as the horn sounded on the second period. The game was all tied after two, 4-4.
To understand the unravelling of the Barons, you need to look no further than the feisty sparks that erupted into full blown flames. But before we tear apart that scenario, Chad Rau scores a goal three minutes in to give Houston a one goal lead. Drew Bagnall and Dane Byers got tangled up in a secondary altercation six minutes into the period. Meanwhile, Colten Teubert and Brett Bulmer were in the throws of giant haymakers including one that brings Bulmer to his knees. Three game misconducts were dealt, and when things were sorted out, the Barons were nearing the point of being done. And they eventually got there. Despite the Aeros giving away tons of open ice, and a few power play opportunities, the Barons would give up one more to Fontaine, his second of the night.
It wasn’t pretty for the Barons, who indeed scored some goals along the way. The team peaked after the first period, and quickly declined. A 6-4 loss had Coach Nelson hot under the collar post game, and rightfully so. Twelve shots in the first two periods, and a total of twenty for the game spits in the face of the Nelson game plan that focuses on getting pucks to the net constantly. When you’re most memorable moment of the night is a Colten Teubert nearly knockout, you have some issues. Texas on Sunday should be a different story.