The Oklahoma City Barons find themselves on the verge of playoff elimination after being shut out by the Hamilton Bulldogs. The series first came to Oklahoma with the Barons down by two. Now they must win the next two, and both of those will be in Hamilton at the Copps Coliseum, to make it to the second round.
Friday night's game saw the Barons fall behind not only on the scoresheet, but also on the shot chart, a rarity in a series in which they've dominated possession. The Bulldogs had 25 shots on goal, the Barons 20 which tied the team's season low. The Barons' penalty kill had their work cut out for themselves, as the team took 6 penalties, two from Alex Plante, but only allowed a single power play goal. The Barons themselves had 7 power play opportunities, but were blanked. Had they scored during any of their man advantages, this may have been a different game entirely.
This is just a coincidence, but Oilers coach Tom Renney and GM Steve Tambellini were also in attendance.
Martin Gerber made his fourth consecutive start of this playoff series and stopped 23 of 25 shots. Alexandre Giroux is usually an AHL scoring machine, but only registered a single shot through 60 minutes. The Teemu Hartikainen - Mark Arcobello - Linus Omark line combined for 7 shots, 4 of them from Arcobello, which was nearly their series average, but they couldn't buy a goal. It seems as though some players were on their game, and some, for whatever reason just weren't quite themselves.
The Barons battled their way into the playoffs, and defied the odds to tie the series. Perhaps they work best as a team when facing the worst Perhaps the thrill, and do or die attitude is all it takes to bring out the best in the team.
Game five will be Sunday afternoon, 2pm MST. If you had no other plans for your Easter Sunday, you may want to make a date with your radio, or treat yourself to this game on AHL gamecentre.