Barons vs. Bulldogs - Game 3 Preview
Oklahoma City returns home tonight and looks to get back in the series
AT THE MORNING SKATE
After a spirited morning skate, the Oklahoma City Barons appeared ready to perform in what will be a pivotal third game in the North Division Semi-Final.
"The biggest thing is, trying to play a game similar to what we played on Saturday. We played a very strong game. Didn't get rewarded. We put 39 shots on net and didn't give them a whole lot in the second and third," said Barons head coach Todd Nelson. "I think that's the biggest thing, take care of the process and the outcome will take care of itself."
With the success of the team Saturday, result notwithstanding, the team didn't make many lineup adjustments for tonight.
Martin Gerber will start in goal once again while the only adjustment will be on the blueline as Alex Plante is back in the lineup. Kevin Montgomery is out.
SOLVING DREW MACINTYRE
The Barons threw everything but the kitchen sink at Bulldogs netminder Drew MacIntyre on Saturday with 39 shots on goal. In the third period, Oklahoma City had 15 shots to Hamilton's two but could not get the equalizer.
"You see it every year in the playoffs with these goalies," said AHL leading scorer and Barons winger Colin McDonald. "They get hot at the right time and they carry their teams throughout the playoffs. Off the top of my head, you saw it with Halak last year in Montreal. Who knows what can happen when you have a guy playing that well."
McDonald then pointed out that in the end, it falls back on the Barons to find a way to solve him.
"You can't really worry about that. We still have to get our chances, worry about what we can control and take it from there."
As far as figuring out the netminder, McDonald said it was just a matter of finding some finish.
"We're doing a good job getting shots but we need to do a better job getting quality second and third chances. Maybe getting guys a little bit hungrier around the net and obviously you always like traffic in front and being a little dirtier, a little gritier in front of the net."
Alex Giroux added that it's not just the goaltending they have to worry about.
"I don't think it's only the goalie, I think they're very well coached, well structured," he said. "They're like Montreal, when they get the lead it's tough to get through the defence. They block a lot of shots."
SPECIAL TEAMS NOT SO SPECIAL
Right now, the achilles heel for the Barons has been their special teams. Two games into the series, Oklahoma City has the worst penalty kill among the 16 participating teams in the Calder Cup Playoffs and is yet to score a power play goal.
"Their power play is pretty effective right now. If we can do a good job limiting their chances on the power play we should be fine five-on-five," said McDonald.
Being down 2-0 in a series is nothing new for Barons veterans Alex Giroux and Bryan Helmer. In fact, both players were in a similar situation during last year's Calder Cup Final. Giroux and Helmer's Hershey Bears were down two games to none against the Texas Stars and were headed on the road for games three, four and five.
"It's not fun to be down 2-0 but we talked to the guys, last year we were down 2-0 and going on the road for three and we won three in a row so, like I said, nothing we can do about the past. It's only one game tonight and we'll take care of it tonight."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OKC BARONS GAME NOTES
OVERVIEW: This first-round series switches to OKC for Game 3 after Hamilton took the first two by 5-2 and 2-1 scores on Thursday and Saturday at Copps Coliseum.
The Barons finished fifth in the West Division and earned the crossover spot as the North Division’s fourth seed after amassing more points than fourth-place Abbotsford. OKC and Hamilton split a 2-game season series, with OKC winning in OT Oct. 24 at Hamilton and the Bulldogs prevailing 3-0 in OKC Dec. 17.
OFF THE TOP: The Barons return home for their first playoff game at the Cox Center, Game 3 of this best-of-seven set. OKC won its last 2 regular-season home games over Rockford (7-0) and Texas (2-0) Apr. 1-2, finishing 18-16-2-4 at home.
Tonight’s game will be just their third at home since Mar. 12, as the Barons played 12 of their last 14 on the road during the regular season before opening with a pair of playoff games at Hamilton. The Barons’ longest home winning streak was 2 games, accomplished 4 times.
POWER PLAYING: The Barons have had a total of six power play chances in the first two games this series, going 0-for-3 in each. Hamilton has had six chances in each of the first two games and is 4-for-12, plus an even-strength goal three seconds after a Barons’ penalty expired on Saturday.
Counting the regular season, the Barons are 0-for-24 on the man advantage against the Bulldogs, while Hamilton is a combined 7-for-26 against OKC (26.9%). OKC enjoyed the AHL’s most power play opportunities during the regular season (407), 21 more than the closest team (Houston). Hamilton was tied with Rochester for the league’s second-fewest power play chances during the regular season with 315.
SERIES SNIPPETS: OKC’s goals this series have been scored by Ben Ondrus, Bryan Helmer and Brad Moran...Martin Gerber denied a penalty shot by Gabriel Dumont at 15:32 of Thursday’s second period...counting the regular season, Barons goaltenders have stopped all four opposing penalty shots...it was Gerber’s first penalty shot faced as a Baron...at even strength, each team has scored three goals in this series...with four power play tallies, Hamilton has out-scored the Barons 7-3.
MCDONALD TAKES GOAL TITLE: Colin McDonald scored his league leading 42nd goal of the season at 17:28 of the third period in Sunday’s finale at Houston, eclipsing Hamilton’s Nigel Dawes for the Willie Marshall Award. With six goals in the final three games, McDonald won the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week Award.
McDonald recorded his first professional four-goal game in Friday’s 7-2 win at San Antonio. He had 17 goals in the last 16 games of the regular campaign. McDonald led the league with 19 power play goals and did not have an empty-netter. Prior to this season,McDonald had totaled 35 goals in 3 seasons as a professional.
GIROUX SECOND IN AHL POINTS: Alexandre Giroux finished as the AHL’s second-leading scorer with 78 points, trailing only league MVP Corey Locke of Binghamton (86). Giroux was rested in the Barons’ final regular-season game on Sunday, the first time he was eligible for an AHL game this season that he did not play.
Giroux saw a 10-game point streak end on Saturday at Texas. He had three goals and 12 assists during the streak, which had extended to Feb. 27, prior to his two March callups to Edmonton. Giroux is the first-team left winger on the AHL post-season All-Star Team, his third straight season as a first-teamer. That feat has been accomplished by only two other forwards in AHL history (Pete Leswick, 1948-50 and Art Stratton, 1963-65). Giroux has had seven consecutive 30 (or more) goal seasons, tying a record held by AHL Hall of Famer Dick Gamble.
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