The Oklahoma City Barons came off of a five-point weekend during their Texas road trip last weekend, and looked ahead to a three-in-three at home against the Texas Stars and a two-game set against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Coming into the weekend on a seven-game standing points streak, the Barons sat just far enough out in the standings to have a slight possibility of clinching a playoff berth this weekend.
Starting out on Friday night, the Barons took on the Texas Stars for the third time in four games. Sweeping the two-game set last weekend, the Barons saw a few new players on the Stars team with the additions of Jack Campbell, Austin Smith, and Taylor Vause. Campbell was given the honor of making his first professional start in goal against the Conference-leading Barons, with Yann Danis in the net opposite him.
Struggling with their discipline lately, the Barons took an extremely quick penalty as Josh Green was whistled for slashing at 1:35 into the game. Both teams traded power play opportunities later in the period, and despite being on the penalty kill twice, the Barons were able to have a lot of scoring opportunities. The scoring finally broke at the 13:56 mark by Kevin Montgomery from the point, assisted by Colten Teubert and Magnus Paajarvi. Getting 15 shots in the first, the Barons only allowed five Texas shots after 20 minutes of play and leading 1-0.
After only getting the five shots in the 1st, the Stars came back firing in the 2nd. Danis made some big saves in the first half of the period, while the Barons still got chances of their own. At the 10:43 mark, Teubert received a pass from Antti Tyrvainen and he shot from the point with Anton Lander standing in front. Lander redirected the shot into the goal and in the process, he earned his first career AHL point and goal, making it 2-0 Barons. A couple minutes later, the Stars' Mike Hedden broke up a pass by Montgomery and got a breakaway, putting it past Danis to cut the Barons' lead to 2-1. The Barons didn't let that faze them, and on the next shift, Pitlick drove up the sideboards and centered a pass to a waiting Mark Arcobello who put it past Campbell to make it 3-1 Barons. Late in the period, the Barons had to kill off a 3-on-5 after both Green and Teubert took tripping penalties a minute apart. The Stars came back and earned 20 shots in the 2nd period to the Barons' 13. There was a lot less shooting in the 3rd as the Barons held back a bit, and the Stars seemed to check out, and with no success on either team's single power play chance, the Barons took the final, 3-1.
Saturday night, the Barons began their two-game set against the Grand Rapids Griffins. With both their goalies called up to Detroit, the Griffins had Tom McCollum in net, their fifth goalie on the depth chart. With Chris VandeValde called up earlier in the day to the Oilers, Ryan Martindale drew into his place, centering Triston Grant and Tanner House. Yann Danis was once again in net for the Barons.
For the second straight game, Josh Green took an early penalty, this time 1:25 into the game for tripping. The Barons killed it off, and Danis made some big saves following it. At 10:17, Hunter Tremblay shot a slow floater towards the net as Mark Arcobello drove through the slot. The puck changed direction off of Arcobello, and the Barons took a 1-0 lead. Then, at the 17:59 mark, Triston Grant backhanded a soft shot towards McCollum while Tanner House and a Griffins player drove towards the net. Grant's shot went right past McCollum without him even realizing it left Grant's stick, and the Barons took a 2-0 lead into the locker rooms.
The 2nd period started off quick with Doug Janik scoring just 41 seconds into the period to cut the Barons lead to 2-1, assisted by Tomas Tatar and Francis Pare. Just like the night before, the Barons didn't want to sit ahead by just one goal, and at 3:18, Green received a long pass from Bryan Rodney along the sideboards in the Griffins zone. Green slid the puck to the crease area and Magnus Paajarvi was right there to chip it in and put the Barons back up by two, 3-1. A few minutes later, Antti Tyrvainen took a cross-checking call and during that PK, Anton Lander shot the puck out of the rink and picked up a delay of game penalty. On the ensuing 3-on-5, Jack Johnson received a cross-ice pass through the crease from Chris Conner and scored to make it 3-2 at 8:31. At 17:32, the Barons got a 5-on-3 chance of their own as Conner took a tripping penalty, and Garnet Exelby took an unsportsmanlike penalty after saying something about it to the ref. At 18:11, Philippe Cornet tipped a shot from Rodney, and the Barons went up 4-2 after two periods.
Returning the favor from the previous period, Josh Green received a pass from Paajarvi in the crease, was denied once, but put in the rebound with a hard slapper just to be sure, and the Barons took a 5-2 lead. At 13:19, a penalty was called on Joakim Andersson and after the whistle Bryan Helmer wasn't too happy with the call. As the teams gathered, Grant and Exelby dropped the gloves and Grant got the takedown in the fight. The last six-plus minutes ticked off, and the Barons won their 41st game of the season.
Nineteen hours later, the two teams met once again. McCollum got the start again for the Griffins, while David LeNeveu defended the Barons net. Bryan Helmer was scratched to rest nagging injuries, and Kirill Tulupov drew in. The Barons avoided an early penalty in this game, but ran into penalty trouble early. After an Arcobello hooking penalty was killed, Teubert took a hooking penalty of his own. On the first faceoff, Tanner House lost the draw to Joakim Andersson. Janik picked up the puck and took a shot and Andersson was there to pot the rebound, making it 1-0 Griffins at 17:59 and the score after one.
At 6:51 of the 2nd, Antti Tyrvainen drove in on the left side and had a look at a shot. Unable to get the puck on his stick, it got caught in his skates. His momentum carried him and the puck past an unspuspecting McCollum to tie it up at 1-1. Another successful penalty kill by the Barons occured later on, and the teams headed to the intermission tied at 1-1. The Barons couldn't do much in the 3rd however, as Grand Rapids rattled off two goals, one by Chris Minard and the other by Francis Pare. The Griffins sealed the deal at 18:30 as Conner picked up a pass and a breakaway, putting the puck into the net to make it 4-1 Griffins, which was your final.
Gaining four out of six points, the Barons are looking at playoff berth clinching scenarios this week. The Barons have their last two-game week of the season as they head to Milwaukee to close out the season series on Friday, and then to Grand Rapids to do the same thing again.