Oklahoma City Barons’ epic comeback falls just short in 6-5 overtime loss

The most exciting game of the Barons’ season to date played itself out this morning.

The first period was the worst of the Oklahoma City Barons. They were down 4-0 to Toronto after one period, with the primary culprits being stars like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Justin Schultz. They were better in the second period. The third period was the absolute best the Barons could offer: those four players combined for nine points as the Barons turned a 5-2 deficit into a 5-5 tie in less than three minutes of third period action.

Game Story

The first period saw the Barons allow goals 36 seconds in, and then three in a span of a minute and a half to close out the third. Olivier Roy wasn’t very good, but was hung out to dry by teammates on the first three goals; Yann Danis got the same treatment less than a minute into replacing him. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins figured prominently in the first two goals against with poor defensive zone play; the Barons NHL line (with Eberle and Hall) was brutal in the early going. They weren’t solely to blame, as outside of the second line (Paajarvi, Lander and Hartikainen) the entire team appeared to still be half asleep.

A respectable effort in the second period helped right the ship. The Barons held an edge both in shots and play, and Taylor Hall narrowed the score to 4-1, but the outcome of the game did not appear to be in doubt. Oklahoma colour man Doug Sauter had suggested earlier that the 4-0 lead might be a test for the Marlies’ discipline, but while the Barons put in a respectable showing the lead was not in jeopardy through 40 minutes.

The third period started quietly enough. In the first ten minutes the teams traded power play goals, with Mark Arcobello scoring for the Barons and Mike Zigomanis returning the favour for the Marlies. Then things got interesting.

The Marlies held a 5-2 lead when Mike Zigomanis took a minor penalty for high-sticking. With the goalie pulled for the spare attacker, defenceman Jordan Henry steamed up the ice to dump the puck in; at the Marlies blue line he was flattened by Korbinian Holzer. A scrum ensued, with matching penalties to Dane Byers and veteran Marlies rearguard Mark Fraser. Carter Ashton took a hooking minor while killing the penalty, and suddenly the Barons had a 5-on-3. Jussi Rynnas was superb and the Marlies’ PK held up, though, and the 5-on-3 ended without a goal.

Enter Dallas Eakins. With a faceoff about to go in the Barons’ zone, Eakins said something that set off the referees. They responded by tossing the Toronto coach from the game and assessing the team with a two minute bench minor. Just like that, the Barons were on another lengthy 5-on-3 and starting in the offensive zone.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored first, batting at the puck until it crossed the goal line. The goal was immediately waved off, but upon review the referees decided that it counted. Todd Nelson pulls Danis, giving the Barons a 6-on-4 advantage; this time a low, hard Jordan Eberle shot through a crowd in front of the net eluded Rynnas, making the score 5-4. Nelson pulled Danis again when the opportunity presented itself; the Barons didn’t look all that good but off a broken play Nugent-Hopkins slapped home another goal, to knot the game at five. Between 16:44 and 19:38 of the third, the Barons young guns tallied three goals and turned a 5-2 deficit into a tie game.

Overtime, regrettably, was a letdown. Alex Plante was assessed a hooking penalty halfway through, and while Yann Danis was excellent the Marlies took advantage of the 4-on-3 situation. As Plante desperately tried to get from the penalty box and into the play, Jake Gardiner fired a tough shot from the point that won the game for Toronto.

Barons Three Stars and Notables

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Two goals, two assists and a minus-1 rating for Nugent-Hopkins, and he was full value for the entirety of that stats line. A brilliant recovery from a terrible first period earns him the nod as the Barons’ best player. Picked up a shot off a post as well.

2. Jordan Eberle. One goal, three assists, and minus-1, and a similar story to Nugent-Hopkins. He also put the puck off a crossbar in the third period. His work in bringing the Barons back late in the game overshadows a subpar first period, one where he described the team’s effort level as “embarrassing.”

3. Teemu Hartikainen. Hartikainen gets the nod for two reasons. He was part of the Barons’ best even-strength line from start to finish – the trio of Hartikainen, Paajarvi and Lander. He didn’t pick up the points but he was also highly useful on the power play as a net front presence.

Honourable mention: Anton Lander. It’s been a tough season for Lander, but he played an excellent game this morning, narrowly missing the far post with one shot and competing throughout. Along with Paajarvi and Hartikainen, his line was a constant irritant to the Marlies; leaving aside their strong play I counted five scrums that this line found themselves in the middle of.

Dishonourable mention: The first period. It was a miserable, miserable start for the team; the only players with a positive plus/minus after the first were Dane Byers and the Lander line. Everyone else was in the red, and the blame for their early struggles was shared by many, many different Barons.

Final Thought

The AHL scoring race now looks like this:

  • 1. Justin Schultz: 13 games, 18 points
  • 2. Jordan Eberle: 13 games, 16 points
  • T3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 12 games, 15 points


Looks like the AHL’s official scorers have decided that the Eberle goal in the third was tipped by Teemu Hartikainen on the way in. This costs Nugent-Hopkins one of his assists (he had the second helper on that goal) so he’s no longer tied for third in AHL scoring.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Muji

    I wasn’t able to watch the game, but followed along on the twitters. Sounded like a really wild/fun finish.

    Nice to see that the cream (Eberle/Nuge) are rising to the top of the AHL leaderboard. If Dumb & Dumber can’t finalise the CBA, then Taylor Hall will surely join his linemates at the top of the leaderboard!

    Btw, that was perhaps the earliest start time I’ve ever seen. Crazy AHL…

    • Rocknrolla

      Ya anyone know why it was that early on a Tuesday? Briefly heard some thing about a field trip on the audio. Maybe they invited a bunch of schools and kids?

      Either way great character comeback. These guys can will things to happen when they focus…good arrows!

    • geoilersgist

      I was happy to hear they made the big comeback. Too bad they couldn’t pull off the win.

      Dumb and Dumber are “waiting for the right time” to get this deal done.


  • RexLibris

    When I had a look at the boxscore I noticed that Paajarvi, Lander and Hartikainen, without scoring a goal, were even on the day. That impressed me and made me think that, while they weren’t able to convert, there were several shots listed and it seemed as though they were having a strong game.

    I have a question though: on that line, who played which wing? We’ve all been operating under the assumption that Paajarvi and Hartikainen are vying for the 2nd-line LW spot, be it this year or next. If Hartikainen can play either wing then his value grows immensely as it gives the coach an entirely different look for the forward lines – pure skill top six, or some crash-bang.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

    • It was really good to see Lander back and taking it to the net more,the line is learning how to tacticly analyse opponents and define which of them fits the best as the Hammer or the Anvil against them.They are focusing and working very very hard on details,and it is paying off in a big way—when you see a line evolving as opposed to instant chemistry its usually hard work catalsing the change–this is very hard work and focus.

      Interesting point about the flexibility and communication of the 3 forwards,it is hard to tell what role each guy is playing because they are communicating as a 5 man unit very well,the defensive core values of the line stand out–we arent seeing any glaring holes at all,they are building off of traditional defensive basics and it is looking really steady at this point,they are big and fast and they jab but they arent throwing haymakers and leaving themselves open very much,like a European boxer.
      That line is forming itself into an anchor for the top unit it seems to me,they are exhibiting excellent consistancy .They are a pretty big handfull for any defense,that line will begin to do more and more damage as the year wears on,it is looking like an NHL line,big strong,defensive minded and cohesive with the ability to spread the offense out by ultra-focusing on individuals smoothly and exploiting defenses repeatedly in the same weak spots.They are thinking alike out there.Where the mind goes the arse will follow,these guys are on a mission ,they know their role and are embracing it.

      We are seeing a physical and fast line here,that can bust you up down the middle , off of the wing, or off the give and goes–with Anton pulling the trigger from the middle it gives the line a 3way threat,MPS off the wing,Harsky down the Middle or off the wing,Lander being a predatory centerman who has skills with the give and go and will willingly take it to the net hard so his big linemates can get his rebounds.

      The last game showed us how adjustable this team really is,had the team been shut out again hard questions would be coming in fast and low.This was a finals rematch and we can see why,that was a barnburner,worth NHL money it was,exciting to the last second.The Barons team looked like Mickey Ward out there or Rocky,”is that all you got?Is that all you got!!”the 2nd line held them in there and gave the team a shot by making no mistakes and being an anchor.
      I grade the game high , the barons adjusted their way to the final result,didnt give up and relied on system induced offense when they needed it,those werent really ugly goals for OKC in the 3rd, they were system induced and that is very important to note,no fluke bounces here,that was hard system focus and adjustments.

        • From what I have seen of Anton at the NHL level he demonstrates an inate ability to break up plays,his positioning is very good ,he takes away lanes and hems opposition players in with his checking ability based on positioning–constant focus and above average vision–the kind of guy who engages you and doesnt give up and ends up stealing the puck back from you like Smyth tends to do a big second effort.
          This dogged and relentless approach wears on opponents quickly and he gets under their skin and forces them to make errors,I believe if we saw him on our top three lines consistantly he would find ways to be sucessful,he thinks the game three steps ahead,if he is allowed to play with less constricted linemates and faces faster play and faster dynamic actions we will see that he is one of those players who always seems to be in the right place at the right time,like Jordan Eberle seems to be.I believe a player like Lander is a leader and will be a takeback machine if he is played in the right situations.

          I also think he can disturb opposition players without taking penaltys ala Tikkanan–piss them off and score goals as well.We have seen him on the 4th line and following coaches orders and being a good system asset,but I dont believe we have slotted him into icetime that can let him show his intangibles,he is not vanilla,he has something annoying about his game and more than a few times I saw NHL players taken off their games by him,he just is in the right places and agitates them mentally,he isnt dirty just always shadowing you.Every team needs chemistry and agitators,when you stumble upon one like we have that doesnt take penaltys to do this job ala Tikkannen ,you need to seriously try to slot them into the system if you can.

          I just see an ability to generate broken plays when the game is at a high level and a fast pace,and I see this done by excellent use of vision and positioning,with a defense first mindset,an opportunistic player who is defensive minded but can easily put himself in the right spot to bust up opposition plays,an excellent potential NHL shadowman if used properly.

          If Anton took a lot of penaltys I wouldnt be so inclined to support him so much but his game is catalysed by hard work not shortcuts–and shortcuts cause penaltys ,simple as that.

          56 NHL games mostly from the 4th line and 6 penalty minutes??Less than 1 shot per game and only -8??I see a lot to work with there.

    • Mike Krushelnyski

      I can’t find any info on if or when Sportsnet are going to be doing more games. Too bad they have to cling to the hope of an NHL season so they can’t just buy up all the OKC games. I legitimately would not care if the NHL comes back this year if all the Barons games were on TV. With the exception of Nail, all the Oilers I really care about watching play there anyways.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    I like how Lander talks the language of offense without taking his defense for a walk and forgetting where he parked his car. Its all 6’s and 7’s from here for the “Euro Trio” as my system has dubbed them, and the fact they were not on the score sheet speaks volumes of the “invisible man technique” the Old School System was built on.
    If Lander can continue to not score we might have a few extra coupons to Safeway to cut out of tomorrows paper.Its text book. Lander is like the garden gnome planted between the majestic oak tree and the flashy tire swing on your your lawn. Take him away and what are you left with? Bacon with out maple syrup on a hot day.
    We have the makings of a Sherwood 5030 with the performance we saw last game. My Old School System flourishes under the Taylor Hall made Kreskin mind reading game Hartski, MPS and Lander had. And Rainbows.
    The depth coming from this line is unreal in a very real sense of surreal, and that might be the most important capacity of how the west was won with tough love.