Barons drop high-scoring affair to Houston
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leaves game in the first period after getting clipped with a high stick
The Oklahoma City Barons were out-shot 39-20 as the Houston Aeros came away with a 6-4 victory Friday evening at the Cox Convention Center. The Barons (3-3-0-0) got two goals from Mark Arcobello and a goal each from Magnus Paajarvi and Tanner House, but the Aeros (3-2-1-0) got two goals from Justin Fontaine and had two others score their first goals of the year.
Oklahoma City was penalized 13 times for a total of 51 minutes, while the Aeros were whistled for 11 infractions and 39 penalty minutes.
“I thought as a group, we didn’t really come to play tonight,” Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson said. “We were very lethargic in a lot of areas. We weren’t skating as hard as we normally do. We didn’t compete as hard as we needed to. It was a game that was there for us, and you have to give Houston credit, but to be quite honest, I don’t think our guys were very good tonight.”
The Barons also lost Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for almost two entire periods after he was clipped with a high stick at 17:30 of the second period and did not return.
“Ryan got struck in the mouth,” Nelson said following the game. “He’s getting some work done on his teeth. His teeth got pushed back so they had to do some work on them. That’s why he didn’t return. Once we get the full report tonight, then we’ll make a decision.”
Jordan Eberle was in the lineup for Friday’s game after leaving the morning skate with an injury. Eberle played alongside Teemu Hartikainen and Nugent-Hopkins before the injury sent Nugent-Hopkins to the locker room.
“I popped out a rib,” Eberle said following the game. “My back kind of seized up, but once it got in place, I felt ready to go. It didn’t bother me tonight at all.”
Martin Marincin’s heads-up defense broke up a potential two-on-one to keep the game scoreless early, but the shutout didn’t last long.
Houston won an offensive zone faceoff and created traffic around Yann Danis. Charlie Coyle got a loose puck and put it past Danis to give the Aeros a 1-0 lead at 5:50. The lead didn’t last long as David McIntyre went off for high-sticking, giving Oklahoma City its first power play of the night.
The Barons evened the score at 9:24 as Paajarvi’s long-range shot from the left-wing side went past Matt Hackett. Nugent-Hopkins and Justin Schultz earned the assists on the power play goal, but a screen in front of the net from Eberle and Hartikainen screened Hackett allowing the puck to pass.
Oklahoma City took a 2-1 lead at 12:21 as House streaked to the net and took a pass from Dane Byers that was chipped past Hackett. The Aeros got the goal back with a second remaining on a power play at 14:42 as Fontaine just got his stick on a floater pass from Jonas Brodin to tie the game at 2-2.
Arcobello broke the tie with a goal with a close-range backhander at 15:21. Hackett was pulled following the third goal, allowing the three goals on five shots in 15:22 played.
Oklahoma City led 3-2 at the first intermission as the Barons put seven shots on goal, while the Aeros had 13.
House and Joel Broda dropped the gloves just 39 seconds into the second period and Oklahoma City came away with the power play as Steven Kampfer went off for a check to the head.
Mikael Granlund picked up where he left off in the preseason, firing a slapshot past Danis’ top corner to tie the game at 3-3 at 7:16. The Aeros then regained the lead as a bouncing puck found its way to Carson McMillan. McMillan put the puck in the open net to give Houston a 4-3 lead at 14:57.
“I think he’s a tremendous player and everyone saw his skill level tonight,” Nelson said of Granlund. “We talked about him before the game and how we need to take care of time and space on the penalty kill. Right now, we’re not reading off each other very well on the PK. That can be corrected.”
With just seconds remaining in the period, Arcobello crashed the net and slammed home a rebound past Darcy Kuemper to tie the game 4-4 at 19:42. Oklahoma City managed just five shots on goal during the period, while the Aeros stretched the shots lead out to 21-12.
Houston got the lead back at 3:35 as Broda’s shot wobbled along the goal line and Chad Rau picked up the puck and jammed it behind Danis on a broken play.
Things got chippy at the 6:34 mark as two separate fights broke out from a scrum in front of the net. Once the penalties were sorted a pair of Barons, Colten Teubert and Byers, and a pair of Aeros, Drew Bagnall and Brett Bulmer, were all assessed fighting majors with Teubert, Bagnall and Byers also receiving game misconducts. Houston ended up on the power play as Teubert got an extra minor for instigation.
Not long after the power play started, Houston had a 5-on-3 advantage, which Oklahoma City managed to kill off.
Houston extended the lead to 6-4 at 15:12 as Fontaine put home a rebound for his second goal of the night. The Aeros out-shot the Barons 18-8 in the third period.
“Sometimes you have to hit guys right between the eyes and let them know how you feel,” Nelson said of the prolonged meeting following the game. “It’s unacceptable. You have to learn from this. We have to bounce back with a big game on Sunday.”
The Barons return to action Sunday afternoon against the Texas Stars. Puck drop at the Cox Convention Center is set for 3 p.m. MT.