The Oklahoma City Barons scored five unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 win over the Charlotte Checkers Saturday evening at the Cox Convention Center. Mark Arcobello led Oklahoma City with a hat trick as the Barons evened the series 1-1.
The Checkers out-shot the Barons 21-7 in the opening period after getting just 28 total shots in Friday night’s overtime contest. Oklahoma City controlled the pace early, but Charlotte quickly went on the offensive as Barons goaltender Yann Danis made a save on Riley Nash early in the period to keep the game scoreless. The Checkers doubled up the Barons in shots, 6-3, at the first media timeout at 6:25.
After Oklahoma City killed the only power play of the period, Charlotte took a 1-0 lead at 9:35 following a long referee’s discussion. Justin Krueger’s point shot was tipped into the goal by Sean Dolan but the goal was waved off. Following a lengthy conference, the call was reversed to give Charlotte a 1-0 lead.
Just over a minute and a half later, Zach Boychuk made it 2-0 as he beat Danis stick side on a breakaway at 11:07. Oklahoma City only had three shots on goal in the game’s first 15 minutes and trailed in shots 18-3 at the second media timeout.
Oklahoma City picked up the pace in the period’s last five minutes, registering four shots on goal. The Barons broke through on the scoreboard at 16:52 as Jonathan Cheechoo put home a rebound to cut the lead to 2-1.
Toni Rajala started the play with a defensive zone takeaway. Rajala tried to setup Arcobello, whose shot went off the side of the net. Arcobello chased the puck and centered it for Cheechoo who scored his first goal of the playoffs.
The Barons brought the pressure in the second period, out-shooting the Checkers 16-8. Oklahoma City went on the penalty kill at 10:02 as Arcobello went off for cross-checking. Boychuk almost had his second goal of the game but Danis came up with the save. Oklahoma City earned its first power play of the night as the Checkers were flagged for too many men on the ice.
Taylor Fedun had a shot get through but Checkers goaltender Rob Madore held on the puck with Josh Green standing on the doorstep. The Barons had 56 seconds of a 5-on-3 as Bobby Raymond was flagged for holding the stick. Charlotte was successful on the kill on both penalties as the Checkers held on to a 2-1 lead.
Oklahoma City got the equalizer late in the period as Tyler Pitlick setup Randy Jones for a one-timer from the near circle to even the score at 2-2. Jones’ goal at 18:30 was the third series goal scored by the Barons in the last three minutes of a period.
The Barons continued to close the shots gap in the early part of the third period and had several chances at the go-ahead goal but Madore kept them off the board. Oklahoma City finally got a bounce; literally, as Jones threw the puck on goal and Arcobello redirected the bouncing puck to pull the Barons in front 3-2 at 8:44. The goal was reviewed for a kick-in but upheld as a good goal.
Chris Terry got away for a hard shot on Danis but the netminder gloved the shot to prevent any chance at a rebound. Precision passing from Cheechoo to Rajala to Arcobello nearly resulted in another Oklahoma City goal but Madore made the save.
The Cheechoo-Rajala-Arcobello line made it 4-2 late in the game at 17:23 as Arcobello scored from the slot. The Checkers pulled Madore following the faceoff and Arcobello added an empty-net goal for the hat trick at 18:17 to secure the 5-2 win.
The series shifts to Charlotte for game three, scheduled for Wednesday night at 6 p.m. CT at Time Warner Cable Arena. Game four is set for Friday night at the same time.
Click here for a box score: http://theahl.com/stats/game-summary.php?game_id=1011051