Barons withstand Aeros rally to win 4-3
Houston scores three goals in the third to wipe out a 3-0 lead
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Barons held on for a 4-3 win over the Houston Aeros Friday evening at the Cox Convention Center. Taylor Hall made his AHL debut and Jordan Eberle had two goals as the Barons moved to 5-3-0-0. Yann Danis made a season-high 35 saves against the Aeros (4-3-1-0).
“The whole game wasn’t pretty for us,” Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson said. “I thought Houston did a really good job of pressuring us. They worked hard. Their pressure gave us fits. You have to give them credit. It wasn’t very pretty.
“There are some positives from tonight’s game. I thought Yann played an outstanding game. He played unbelievably. The goals that beat him, he didn’t have a chance on. He was the story of the game. He got us the win. Until we get things figured out defensively, we’re going to have to have our goalies stand up for us.”
Hall made his return to the ice, playing in a game for the first time in seven months.
“(It was) Not the return I expected, but I played hard,” Hall said. “I played well. Hopefully it gets pretty easy going forward for me because it was a little fast at times. I’m a little bit lost in my own end, but overall I’m happy with how it went.”
Hall wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard as he scored 38 seconds in to give Oklahoma City a 1-0 lead. Hall tipped a point shot from Colten Teubert past starting Houston netminder Darcy Kuemper. The goal came on Hall’s first shift and was the quickest goal scored to start a Barons game this year.
“It was really nice to get that one out of the way early,” Hall said. “It was a really good point shot that was easy to tip. When your defensemen are able to fire it through like that, it’s good for the forwards.”
Nelson noted postgame how involved Hall was on the night.
“For his first game, I thought he looked really well,” Nelson said. “He skated well. For being off for seven months he looked really good to me. From here on in, he’s just going to get better. From a system point of view there was some things we’ll have to work on but that’s expected being off that long.
Eberle made it 2-0 as he picked up a loose puck outside the crease and put it past Kuemper at 1:26. Houston called its timeout after allowing the two early goals.
“Schultz found me coming backdoor and he’s such a heads-up player put it right on my tape,” Eberle said. “I really didn’t have to do much other than put it in the empty net.”
Danis stood tall in the period, making several quality saves to keep the game scoreless. The Aeros had an 8-6 lead in shots at the end of the first period.
The second period belonged to Danis as he turned away 13 second-period shots from the Aeros, upping the game total to 21 for Houston. The Aeros controlled the pace for much of the first half of the period but Danis kept them off the board.
His save of the period came just ahead of the halfway point of the period as he stretched to snag a Brian Connelly shot out of mid-air.
Teemu Hartikainen extended the Barons lead to 3-0 late in the period at 18:27 as his pass attempt went off Kuemper’s skates and into the goal. Despite the Aeros leading in shots, 21-13, at the end of the period, the Barons managed to take a 3-0 lead into the locker room.
In stark contrast to the first two periods, the Aeros took control of the third period and rallied back to tie the game late before the Barons were able to put the game away.
Mikael Granlund broke the shutout, scoring off a second rebound at 3:46. Less than a minute later, Johan Larrson pulled the Aeros to within one as he put home a pass from Charlie Coyle to make it 3-2 at 4:24.
Houston converted on the power play at 10:53 to tie the game at 3-3. Coyle redirected a Brian Connelly pass for his sixth goal of the year.
The Barons responded in the best way possible as Eberle took a pass from Justin Schultz and curled it past Kuemper for the eventual gamewinner at 13:44.
“It was a great play,” Nelson said of the goal. “I think Schultz found Jordan backdoor there. It was just a great play. It came at a good time for us obviously. I think once (Houston) tied it up 3-3, we got a spark. It was good that our team reacted that way. Other teams could just fall down and let things happen but our guys dug deep in the end and got the two points.”
Hall took a match penalty late for a blow to the head and the Barons faced a five-minute penalty kill late in the match. Danis ended the busy penalty kill with a save as Oklahoma City held on to win 4-3.
The two teams faceoff Saturday evening at 6 p.m. MDT inside the Cox Convention Center.