Check back all evening for regular updates from tonight's game between the Oklahoma City Barons and Abbotsford Heat at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre.
To no one's surprise, Oilers superstars Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle got the game's best chances in an otherwise slow start for both teams. Playing on a line with Tyler Pitlick and Antti Tyrvainen, Nugent-Hopkins cycled well with his crew before wheeling into the deep slot and testing Heat starter Danny Taylor.
Eberle did something similar, curling below the near faceoff circle and releasing a shot that was also blocked by the goaltender.
Just as the 10-minute mark approached, Paul Byron redirected a long-range point shot by Chris Breen, but Yann Danis and his left pad were up to the task.
Down 6-3 in shots at 12:32, the Barons went to the power-play as Abbotsford's TJ Brodie was assesssed a holding minor -- it was a shortlived attempt, however, as Eberle picked up a penalty of his own 38 seconds in.
Both penalties expired without incident as the scoreless game continued.
The penalty box doors continued to swing as Magnus Paajarvi was charged with hooking at 16:53. Peppering Danis with high-quality shot after high-quality shot, Abbotsford's Dustin Sylvester deposited a disrupted and ill-timed cross-crease pass past Danis to give the Heat a late 1-0 lead.
Calgary's AHL affiliate also led 13-8 in shots after one.
OKC nearly evened the score early in the period when Tyrvainen scooped a backhand shot toward the gaping cage, but an outstretched Taylor did enough to keep it out.
In a spirited shift moments after featuring a one-on-one battle you can expect to see for years to come between Eberle and Flames prospect Sven Baertschi, the Barons controlled the pace with a dominant sequence that nearly resulted in a Chris VandeVelde goal -- but the visitors couldn't quite cash.
A delay of game penalty (puck over the glass) to Pitlick at 6:45 put the Heat back on the power-play.
Once again, Danis faced a barrage of chances -- and once again, the Heat made one count. With Baertschi picking up an assist, Ben Street walked in untouched and rifled a shot upstairs and over Danis' left shoulder.
The Barons wasted an opportunity to get back in the game moments later, generating little on a man-advantage before heading back to the PK as Anton Lander was sentenced to sit at 12:35. Fortunately for the orange and blue, no further damage was done.
Clearly, it isn't the Barons' night. In a play eerily similar to Steve Smith's gaffe in 1986, Martin Marincin's attempted up-the-gut pass went off Alex Plante's skate and in behind a stunned Danis to make it a 3-0 Heat lead.
Needing a spark, the Barons got one early on. Colten Teubert rattled the glass with a smack on Max Reinhart, sending him violently to the ice while others came in to respond. As a result, No. 33 was assessed the extra minor but it was due to the emotion OKC so badly needed to deliver.
After having killed the penalty, the Barons went to the attack. Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall, unusually silent throughout the night, began using their speed to penetrate the zone and put quick shots on goal. None beat Taylor, but Oklahoma City slowly crept closer to the Heat's commanding shot clock edge.
That, too, was a shortlived positive. Penalties to Plante, Teigan Zahn and Curtis Hamilton in quick succession served to halt any hope of a Barons comeback. Just 12 seconds into an ensuing 5-on-3 advantage, ex-Oiler Krys Kolanos popped a quick shot under the bar to secure a 4-0 Abbotsford lead.
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