It was Josh Green that netted the game winner, but it was Magnus Paajarvi that stole the show. Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photography. All rights reserved.
With two minutes left in regulation, Magnus Paajarvi did something we have yet to see the young Swede do while on the farm. Sure he's had moments of greatness. With speed that blows competition away, and stick work that few minor league players possess, but tonight he found a new level. Those two minutes, that rounded out regulation, found the Barons down a goal, but gifted with a 6 on 4 chance (via a penalty and Danis to the bench). As those in the Cox Center held their breath, Magnus took over. He took a perfect pass from Bryan Rodney, wound up, and fired a shot from near the right face-off dot; scoring a goal with less than ten seconds left in regulation. In overtime, he continued his spasm of awesomeness. It was a night that Magnus got good, really good.
But that little moment of time was just a quick dip on the roller coaster of a game number two against the Rampage.
The scoring began, as it did two nights before, by the Barons. This go round it was Chris VandeVelde beating Markstrom stick side.
Then the Rampage roared back as Bill Thomas scored the first goal, and the first of three on the power play, for the Rampage.
Period two began, and Mark Cullen snatched yet another power play goal for the Rampage. The Barons were now playing down a goal at 2-1.
Then the Barons scored a pair. First by Mark Arcobello and then by Teemu Hartikainen. It seemed that the momentum was shifting as the Barons now secured the one goal lead as period two came to an end.
But like the best roller coaster, the dips and turns continued. After an Arcobello slash, Evan Barlow netted the third power play goal of the game for the Rampage halfway through the third period. And Bill Thomas scored his second of the evening five minutes later.
With under three minutes left in the game, Nolan Yonkman gets a little excited, over zealous, or a combination of both, and lifts the puck out of play to put the Barons with the man advantage. And the Paajarvi goal, with seconds left on the clock, ensues.
The full period of overtime began as the rest of game had gone -- fast and furious, back and forth -- and it ended with a fabulous finishing moment by Josh Green who put in a rebounded shot that originated from, you guessed it, Magnus Paajarvi.
The Barons win, 5-4 in a dramatic overtime victory as the next three games head to San Antonio in the best of seven series.
Where the Barons were lacking in game one, they attempted to rectify in game two. The defense wasn't perfect, but it was effective. Moving the puck well with little error was a key component in winning games where the pace was quick. Alex Plante, surprisingly enough, made a handful of passes that he hadn't the game prior. In all, it was a much better defensive game despite a few minor blemishes.
Also note that the team didn't fade. They also never had a two goal lead. It always felt like the team was pressing hard even when the lead was in hand. This is a great swing by the team when compared to the previous game, and it's also a really solid move by the Barons coaching staff to address the issue.
Bryan Rodney and Taylor Chorney were much better tonight. Thus making me look silly for calling them out...at least for a solitary game.
Triston Grant started in place of the lower body injured Hunter Tremblay. But Grant took an early stick to the face, never returned, and caused a few tweaks in the lineup. None that made much difference, but temporarily had several consecutive shifts into a free for all.
There's no doubt that having Hunter Tremblay out effected the penalty kill. He plays such an integral role for this team when down a man, that it was noticeable, especially in the first two power play goals. Nonetheless, the Rampage are becoming more lethal on the power play, and in the next couple of games the Barons will need to tighten the reigns to kill those penalties. I have no doubt they will do just that.
Saturday night's attendance was very close to 3000 at 2962. And with such a dramatic finish, perhaps many more return or at least pay more attention in the days ahead.
The Barons outshot the Rampage in the overtime period 10-2.
Game three will be Monday night in San Antonio.