PREVIEW: Barons at Chicago
Barons conclude set of three games in three days today in Chicago
|ONLINE TV: AHL Live (PPV)
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PUCK DROP: 3:00 p.m. MST
LAST 10: Oklahoma City 6-3-0-1; Chicago 5-4-1-0
Season Series: Tonight is the first of four meetings this season between Oklahoma City and Chicago. The Barons played Chicago twice last season, losing both times. They dropped a 4-1 decision on March 4 in Chicago and lost 3-0 at home on April 7.
Big Story: The Barons look to conclude a stretch of three games in three days against the Wolves today. OKC lost on Friday 5-2 in Grand Rapids but bounced back to win Saturday in a shootout. Chicago is in 12th in the Western Conference but could move to within four points of eighth with a win. OKC could move within a point of top spot in the South Division with a pair of games against division-leading Charlotte next weekend.
Barons: After losing two in a row in regulation time, the Barons bounced back on Saturday in Milwaukee to win their second shootout of the season, 3-2 over the Admirals. OKC was down 2-0 in the third period but goals by Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle tied it up and set the stage for Justin Schultz's winner in the sixth round of the shootout.
Wolves: Chicago has only one win in their last five games, going 1-2-1-1 during that span of time. The Wolves have been a really hot and cold team this season. Prior to their current slump, they won four straight and prior to that they won only two out of 10 games. The Wolves are the affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. They struggle to score goals with the team's leading scorer being Andrew Ebbett with 21 points in 29 games.
Who's Hot: Defenseman Justin Schultz leads the AHL in assists (30) and power play points (25), while second overall in points with 48. Schultz, the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for October and Rookie of the Month in November, has multiple points in 17 of 34 games, including 11 games with 2 assists. Schultz is third in the league in goals (18), 2 away from tying the rookie goal scoring record for defensemen (20), set by John Slaney of Baltimore in 1992-93. Schultz, held pointless on Tuesday at Houston, has been kept off the scoresheet in just 5 of 34 games and in 3 of those the Barons were shut out.
Injury Report: Antti Tyrvainen (wrist) is out. Dan Ringwald (arm) is out. Kristians Pelss (suspension) is out. Brandon Davidson (cancer treatment) is out. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is just now returning from Ufa, Russia for the World Junior Tournament.
Puck Drop: Prior to last night, when they allowed a first-period goal at Milwaukee, OKC had gone 7 games without giving up a goal in the opening period. The Barons have out-scored the opposition in the first period 44-24, tallying the most first-period goals in the AHL. By trailing 1-0 after 1 period last night, the Barons saw a string of 17 consecutive games snapped where they led or were tied at the first intermission. They went 8-7-0-2 during that stretch. OKC is 2-1-1-0 when trailing after 1 period. The 4 times OKC has trailed after the first are the fewest in the AHL. Closest is Hershey, which is 0-7-0-0 when behind after 1 period. The Barons recorded their second win of the year last night when down 2-0 at some point in a game, and their second such victory in 5 games dating to a shootout over San Antonio Dec. 28.
- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com, with files from Jim Byers.