The Oklahoma City Barons got a shutout from Yann Danis and goals from Toni Rajala, Anton Lander, Mark Arcobello and an empty-netter from C.J. Stretch to blank the Texas Stars Monday evening, 4-0. The Barons take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals of the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Both teams traded scoring chances early but goaltenders Danis and Texas’ Christopher Nilstorp stood tall turning away every shot in the opening period. Teemu Hartikainen was setup by Rajala but Hartikainen was unable to find the puck in his skates. The Barons took the period’s only penalty at 2:26 as Taylor Fedun went off for slashing. The Stars has quality shots with the man advantage, including a point shot by Jamie Oleksiak but solid defense from Danis and the Barons kept Texas off the board.
Oklahoma City continued the pressure with Garrett Stafford and Tyler Pitlick getting shots on Nilstorp. Hartikainen had a shot in deep and Rajala the rebound attempt but neither shot found the net. The Barons’ got a breakaway chance when Pitlick got ahead of the defense and went one-on-one with Nilstorp after receiving the pass from Stretch.
Texas’ Brett Ritchie hit the goal post late in the period and Danis came up big with saves on Maxime Fortunus and Ritchie before the Barons sent the puck the other way. Oklahoma City had a three-on-two develop as Antti Tyrvainen’s shot from the wing was turned away by Nilstorp, as were back-to-back chances by Rajala and Chris VandeVelde. Josh Green had a chance turned away blocker side in the closing seconds of the period. Oklahoma City ended the first leading 11-8 in shots on goal.
The Barons broke through on the scoreboard in the second period with goals from Rajala and Lander. Rajala continued his high-flying pursuit as he tried to find Hartikainen early in the period. Lander got an early breakaway attempt following a Tanner House takeaway before Jordie Benn went to the box for holding to give Oklahoma City its first power play of the night.
On the ensuing power play, Colton Sceviour got a shorthanded breakaway on Danis but the netminder turned away the shot. Just as the penalty expired, Rajala capitalized on a fantastic screen in front of Nilstorp by Hartikainen. Rajala’s wristed floated through traffic to find the back of the net and give Oklahoma City a 1-0 lead 5:26 into the period. Martin Marincin and Stretch earned the assists on Rajala’s third of the playoffs.
Texas had a chance on the power play when Justin Dowling beat Danis glove side but hit the crossbar. Lander went the other way on a breakaway attempt but was crosschecked by Benn to end the Stars’ power play. At 12:28, Lander broke through to give Oklahoma City a 2-0. Lander came streaking down the ice after jumping on during a power-play change and beat Nilstorp blocker side high and hit the inside of the post to bank the shot in. Hartikainen and Marincin earned the assists. Oklahoma City ended the second with a 25-16 lead in shots, out-shooting the Stars 14-8 in the period.
Arcobello gave the Barons a 3-0 lead 4:37 into third as he fired a shot from the slot on a backhanded pass from Andrew Hotham. Stafford went off for a high-sticking double minor at 6:20 but the Barons killed off the penalty.
Hotham took a slashing penalty at 15:42 and the Stars pulled Nilstorp for the extra attacker. Texas pulled even in shots on goal at 30-all with one minute remaining but Danis came through with solid defense and Stretch added the empty net goal at 19:42 to secure the 4-0 win for the Barons. The last goal was the difference in shots on goal as Oklahoma City led 31-30 at the end of the game.
Game four of the series is Wednesday night in Oklahoma City with a 7 p.m. CT puck drop.
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