Aeros bounce back to top Barons 6-2
Mikael Granlund scores four goals and adds an assist in Houston victory
It was a nightly harshly different from Friday evening’s 4-0 win over the same team, and Barons head coach Todd Nelson commented on the change from the previous night’s outing.
“Well, if there’s a time to get a stinker out of the way, it’s exhibition play,” Nelson said. “Obviously we’re disappointed we played that way. We just didn’t have any drive. I don’t know if the guys were tired with camp all week, but you have to give Houston credit. They played hard tonight. Their special teams were good tonight.”
Starting goaltender Yann Danis played the entire game, allowing the six goals on 29 shots. Following the game, Danis spoke of the benefits of playing two preseason games prior to the start of the regular season.
“It’s a great opportunity for the new guys to learn the system and to play with each other,” Danis said. “Hopefully, now that we have these out of the way, we’ll be ready for next week. I’m glad I got the chance to play a full game. It’s not the result I wanted, but I got a feel for the puck.”
The Barons got two power play opportunities early in the game. The first came just 46 seconds into the first period when Brett Bulmer went off for boarding. Oklahoma City had plenty of chances to get on the board during the period’s first man advantage.
Alex Plante’s shot broke a defenseman’s stick and Toni Rajala’s rebound shot was scooped up by Houston starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Justin Schultz also had a shot deflected and Tanner House’s pass to a streaking Philippe Cornet was broken up as the Aeros managed to keep Oklahoma City off the board.
Brian Connelly took a delay of game penalty at 3:19 to put the Barons back on the power play. Schultz had a one-timer blocked before it got through as Kuemper kept Oklahoma City off the board once again.
The Aeros scored the game’s first goal at 9:36 of the period as Granlund got a steep angle shot past Danis as Houston led 1-0.
The Barons continued to put the offensive pressure on the Aeros but Houston’s defense kept most of the Oklahoma City shots from getting through to Kuemper.
Granlund got his second goal of the game at 16:09 as he put a wrister high on Danis to give Houston a 2-0 lead. Oklahoma City answered to trim the lead in half as a streaking Pitlick beat Kuemper with a wrist shot on the stick side at 17:10. Magnus Paajarvi just missed connecting with Pitlick to even the score late in the period on the power play.
I just got a nice pass from (Teigan) Zhan,” Pitlick said of his goal. “I just took down the wing and shot the puck, and it went in. I didn’t quite have my game legs tonight. I felt alright. I just have to focus on some little things.”
The Aeros took a 2-1 lead into the locker room at the first intermission and led in shots on goal, 8-7.
Oklahoma City went on the penalty kill for the first time of the night at 4:29 in the second period. The Barons found themselves down two men at 5:09 which opened the ice for the Aeros. Grunlund almost completed the hat trick after hitting the puck off the post past Danis.
Houston continued to bring the offensive pressure and got rewarded at 5:50 as Charlie Coyle knocked down a bouncing puck and put it past Danis from the far side to put the Aeros up 3-1.
Pitlick later got a chance to score his second goal of the game but Kuemper shrugged off the shot. Matt Hackett entered the game at the 8:15 mark of the period.
Paajarvi fed Josh Green for a scoring chance late in the period, but Hackett came up with the save. Dane Byers also had a scoring chance, attempting to go high on Hackett, but the Aeros took the 3-1 lead into the lockerroom at the second intermission. The Barons managed to take the lead in shots, 18-17, and had 1:35 remaining on a power play.
Granlund completed the hat trick at 4:07 of the third, putting a wrister past Danis top shelf to give Houston a 4-1 lead. He later added a fourth goal at 10:51 while on the power play.
The Barons got a goal back at the 13:59 mark of the period as Paajarvi centered a pass that Martindale pounded home to cut the Houston lead to 5-2.
Coyle added his second goal of the game at 18:20 to secure Houston’s 6-2 win.
“This gives us something to work on,” Nelson said. “It’s a bit of an eye-opener for our guys, too, going into the regular season. We want to make sure that we understand we have to work hard and apply our systems with our game plan to be successful. Tonight was a bit humbling.”
The Barons open the 2012-13 regular season on Friday, Oct. 12, against the Lake Erie Monsters.