Barons overcome 2-0 deficit, defeat Rampage in shootout
Barons leapfrog Abbotsford Heat, move into eighth and final playoff spot
|Post-game interviews with Chris VandeVelde, Dane Byers, Mark Arcobello, Olivier Roy & Head Coach Todd Nelson
Toni Rajala scored the game-tying goal early in the third period, adding another in the shootout, as the Barons overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the San Antonio Rampage 3-2 Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.
Taylor Fedun scored OKC's other goal, while Mark Arcobello and Josh Green also tallied in the shootout.
"It feels great," said Head Coach Todd Nelson. "It was a tough game out there. It was a battle of wills and it came right down to the shootout. We showed a lot of heart and character coming back in the third and being down a goal. Then we popped in that tying goal and both teams started exchanging chances. It was a good hockey game.
"We're happy with the win. We need all the points we can get and tonight was a big game for us."
Olivier Roy made 27 saves on 29 shots in regulation and overtime, adding another three big stops on Evan Barlow, Greg Rallo and Eric Selleck in the shootout. The 21-year-old has now won two straight and is looking as sharp as he ever has in Barons silks.
"It's great," said Roy. "If we show up like that every single night, we really like our chances."
San Antonio made it a 1-0 game with a power-play goal at 5:05 of the second period. From the corner, a pinpoint pass by Rallo connected with Jed Ortmeyer who, outmuscling a much smaller Brandon Davidson in the crease, redirected the puck past Roy on his team's ninth shot.
The goal came moments after Jonathan Cheechoo and Darcy Hordichuk rang separate shots off the iron behind Dov Grumet-Morris.
Shorthanded once again as Alex Plante was serving an interference minor, the Rampage tallied again. Selleck burst down the wing, beat Barons veteran Colten Teubert wide and snapped a quick shot on goal. The initial attempt was stopped, but Roy kicked the rebound directly into the slot where a streaking Jared Gomes deposited a missile up and over the goaltender's right shoulder.
Allowing a pair of goals on six opportunities, OKC's PK performed at a 66.7 percent clip.
"Besides getting my tooth chipped, we did well (on the penalty kill). We had a couple bad bounces," said Chris VandeVelde, who played big minutes, was instrumental in each shorthanded situation and looked like an NHLer all night. "Every line was going and we had a solid game.
"It feels good. We were down and came from behind, which is something we haven't done in a while. We really gutted it out and got the win in the shootout."
Less than a minute later at 16:17, after allowing what appeared to be the back-breaker, the Barons got on the board with a pretty one of their own. Jonathan Cheechoo escaped the checks of Rallo and Zach Hamill and slid a nifty backhand pass across to a wide-open Fedun. The rookie walked in, set his sights and launched a wrist shot past Grumet-Morris to make it a 2-1 game.
Martin Marincin picked up the other assist, his 23rd point in 53 games this season.
Just 1:48 into the third, buoyed by the momentum of another big penalty kill as Cheechoo was off serving a boarding minor, Arcobello sifted a world-class pass across to Rajala at the doorstep for the equalizer.
The Barons were presented with a glorious opportunity to win it with 4:12 to play as Barlow picked up his third penalty of the night (this time for boarding) but, as it did all night, the power-play came up empty.
Penalties to Barlow (separate infractions for interference and unsportsmanlike conduct), Alex Petrovic and John Lee provided the Barons with four man-advantage opportunities in the opening period, including a 1:42-long 5-on-3.
"Our power-play wasn't that good," said Nelson. "We snafued that 5-on-3 when we should have generated a goal."
Still, the game progressed to overtime and eventually a shootout where the Barons' hot sticks prevailed.
"To be honest with you, I didn't really know what I was doing," laughed Arcobello, recounting his slick, side-to-side move that completely undressed the Rampage netminder. "I came down, made a couple moves and tried to read him as best as I could. He gave me one side of the net and I lucked out in putting it in."
With the win and combined with Abbotsford's loss to the Texas Stars Wednesday, the Barons now sit with sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the AHL's Western Conference with a 29-22-2-6 record (66 points).
"It's good for us," said longtime AHL veteran Dane Byers. "Whenever we can get on the road and gel with the guys, it helps. It showed tonight.
"This is the time of year when you start putting some wins together to make that playoff run. It's a good step and it feels great."
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick