Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Barons drop another, despite two point night from Schultz

The Oklahoma City Barons were hoping a return home from their seven game road trip would get them back to their winning ways. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, as the Barons dropped their fifth straight, falling 4-2 to the Peoria Rivermen. Defenceman Justin Schultz continued on his torrid scoring pace, picking up a pair of assists, while Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall scored his sixth of the season and chipped in with a helper, in the losing effort.

Things were looking good in the game's opening minutes, as Oklahoma City came out firing on all cylinders. They created chances early and were rewarded for their great start, with a Taylor Hall power play marker, less than six minutes in. The former first overall selection ripped home a laser past Jake Allen, giving Todd Nelson's boys the start they were after.

That lead would stand until the midway point of period two, when Peroria would strike on a man advantage of their own. Winger Andrew Murray would score his first of two on the night, beating OKC starter Olivier Roy with a quick backhand in tight, to even things at one.

Less than two minutes later,  T.J. Hensick would give the visitors their first lead of the night, beating Roy between the wickets, for his sixth of the season. Just like that, the lead was gone and the Barons were on their heels.

To their credit, they would rebound to tie things up in the dying seconds of the middle frame, courtesy of another power play goal. Teemu Hartikainen tipped home a perfectly placed point shot from Justin Schultz, to get the home side back on level terms and give the hard working Finn his eighth of the season.

Unfortunately, as has been the case on far too many occasions in recent weeks, Oklahoma City could not get the job done in the final twenty minutes. Neither side created much during what was a rather uneventful third period but the Rivermen would pounce on one of the period's rare opportunities, to steal the two points.

Hensick managed to sneak behind defenceman Martin Marincin, before taking a neat little feed from Derek Nesbitt and roofing his second of the night, for the eventual game winner. Murray would make it a 4-2 final, notching his fourth of the season into an empty net.

Tough to say what is exactly causing the Barons to repeatedly breakdown late in games but the fact this team continues to bleed game tying and/or game winning goals in the final ten minutes of play, obviously has their head coach concerned.

"Again, we're putting on the pressure and in the last five minutes, we give up a goal...and it has to stop." A visibly frustrated Nelson went on to add, "It's the same people that it's happening too and we just have to better in those areas and learn from it."

With their fifth consecutive loss now under their belt, Oklahoma City find themselves sitting in ninth place in the AHL's Western Conference and owners of a rather disappointing 11-9-1-2 record. Their last three losses have come at the hands of two of the bottom three teams in the West and with a three game in three night weekend next on the schedule, it might get worse before it gets any better.

The Barons are set to take on the Houston Aeros and San Antonio Rampage five times over their next nine games. Problem being, their combined record against those two clubs is a dreadful 2-5-0-2.

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