When you’re a fan, it’s hard to complain when you beg your team to win and they do. As if they needed my pleas to awaken to ways of winning. Yet still, winning is so much better than losing. The Barons, with back-to-back victories against San Antonio at home, turned their diesel bus towards Houston for an early Sunday evening game. The team would lose in a shootout, Yann Danis would be really good, but not good enough to overcome some discrepancies from other members of the Barons. OKC would lose to Houston, 4-3 to complete the three-in-three with 5 out of 6 points. I’ll take it.
The short story of a 60+ minute hockey game is that penalties matter and goaltending is key. For the most part, Oklahoma City conquered both. They simply ran out of gas.
Yann Danis in net for the Barons. Matt Hackett for Houston. This is a duel we’ve seen before, but it tends to be one-sided, at least this season. With OKC being unable to beat Hackett over the early parts of the season, it would seemingly be a similar sensation on Sunday night.
The first period was pretty much an even dogfight. Shots were nearly the same, goaltending was solid, both teams scored some goals. But it was Houston that would strike first. Nick Palmieri would take the puck sluggishly down the left side, wrap it around Danis’ net without any commitment from defenders, it wouldn’t connect but rather bounce back onto the stick of Rob Mignardi. The Aeros take an early 1-0 lead. Then the Barons would score a pair in the first period to take the one goal lead. Anton Lander would take a long range shot from the top of the key, and Taylor Hall would punch it in off a rebound. Next up was Justin Schultz, who’d take a power play point shot near the blue line, and somehow dial it in perfectly for the advantage goal. The first period ends with OKC on top, 2-1.
In the second period, the Aeros kept charging while the Barons slowed. Scoring the lone goal of the second period was Mikael Granlund with some help from Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker. Houston, being the lowest penalized team in the AHL proved to uphold that banner. Only suffering a single hook in the second 20 minutes, the team would end the night with only six total penalty minutes. Oklahoma City was pretty disciplined in this regard as well, but it’s when those penalties occurred that would seal their fate. Period two ends with a 2-2 tie.
Again, the third period was murky offensively save for a lone high side shot by Mark Arcobello that put the team up 3-2. But in the waning minutes of the final period, Jordan Henry would elect to slash a Houston player. The Aeros would capitilize on the only power play goal for the team on the night. And with just over two minutes left, the Houston Aeros would tie the game on a Jason Zucker goal. Brian Connelly was able to slide down center ice unflustered by any Baron. It was yucky.
The overtime frame was lethargic for Oklahoma City, who relied way too heavily on their goaltender to the bail them out. Of course he did, and we lived to find the shootout. But by that time the Barons were defeated, and given their record in the shootout over the last three years, this wasn’t going to end well. And it didn’t. Arcobello, Eberle, Schultz, Hall – none could score. Granlund and Phillips – did score. The Aeros would defeat the Barons with Matt Hackett at the helm 4-3, but OKC would round out the three-in-three with 5 of 6 possible points. That’s a weekend I’ll take.
Yann Danis faced 45 shots. Jason Zucker and Brian Connelly gave him 19 of those. It was a pretty remarkable game for Yann who looked rock steady. But that’s way too many shots to even begin to wander towards winning. The Barons were defensively inept in the worst possible moments. No doubt that this team was physically and emotionally spent, and the only reason this game went into OT/SO was a direct result of the talent there within. After taking 10 shots in the first period, they’d only take 9 in the final 40, and one in the overtime session. Then they had a completely uneventful shootout that had me covering my eyes for the most part. The way I’m writing this it sounds like a bad loss, when really it was a one-goal game. But we know how good the team can be outside of three-in-three rundown situations.
The team gets a break and a breather as they prepare for Texas Friday and Saturday in Oklahoma City which are the only two games between now and December 27th.