OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Barons dropped a fifth straight game Tuesday evening, falling 4-2 to the Peoria Rivermen. The Barons (11-9-1-2) got two power play goals from Taylor Hall and Teemu Hartikainen but the Rivermen (9-11-2-2) scored two third-period goals to take the win.
“Once again, we had a tie game and we were putting pressure (on the other team) and all of a sudden last five minutes we give up a goal, and it has to stop,” said Oklahoma City Head Coach Todd Nelson. “We just have to be better in those areas and learn from it. We had our opportunities to score. We had a power play in the third where we needed a goal.
“We have to get through this. We’re going through a tough time right now. We’re not playing horrible hockey but I don’t know if the guys realize the significance of where we’re at right now. That was a heartbreaker, not taking anything away from Peoria. I thought they played a good game. It’s just one of those games where things aren’t going right.”
The Barons got pressure on Peoria in the first period and had several quality scoring chances. Martin Marincin had his shot turned away by Peoria goaltender Jake Allen but the rebound just hopped over Jordan Eberle’s stick for another scoring chance.
Peoria’s Ian Cole went off for high-sticking following the scoring chance and just 22 seconds into the man advantage, Hall converted his sixth goal of the year. Hall’s wrister from the right circle came courtesy of a cross-ice pass from Mark Arcobello at 5:53. Justin Schultz added to his AHL-leading point total with the secondary assist on the goal.
“We moved the puck around pretty well,” Hall said. “We made some adjustments to our power play from this past weekend. I just had an open lane to shoot, so I shot it. It was the same thing (on our second power play goal).”
The Barons got a second power play chance later in the period and starting goaltender Olivier Roy made a big stop on Adam Cracknell while on a shorthanded two-on-one. Oklahoma City was penalized just once in the opening frame and killed off the penalty late as the Barons led 1-0 at the first intermission.
The Rivermen answered the Barons scoring just past the midway point of the period as Andrew Murray backhanded the puck past Roy to even the score at 1-1. After Tyler Pitlick missed a scoring chance, Peoria stormed back as T.J. Hensick fired a shot that beat Roy five hole to give the Rivermen a 2-1 lead.
The Barons got a third power play opportunity late in the period as Jaden Schwartz went off tripping. Just over a minute into the man advantage, Schultz sent a shot from the point towards the net that was tipped into the goal by Hartikainen to tie the game at 2-2 at 19:17. Hall registered his second point of the night as he earned the secondary assist on Hartikainen’s eighth of the year.
The Rivermen held a 26-18 lead in shots on goal at the second intermission.
Neither team could break the tie as each team registered five shots on goal through the first 13 minutes of the period. Curtis Hamilton had a partial breakaway at the end of his two-minute shift in the penalty box but Allen kept him off the board.
At the 14:16 mark of the frame, Peoria broke the tie as Hensick fired a shot from the right circle that beat Roy to give the Rivermen a 3-2 lead. Murray added an empty-net goal at 19:39 to give Peoria a 4-2 win. The Rivermen led in shots on goal 34-28.
“We have to put the brakes on with this,” Nelson said. “The only people that can do that are the guys in the room. They have to take responsibility for it. Once again, it’s the same guys scoring goals. We have to get contributions from other lines. Those guys have to come to the party.”
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