The Barons came out flat, as they often do, and Lake Erie was able to sustain some early pressure, but couldn't put a shot on net. OKC came back the other way and had some pressure of their own but shot everything a mile wide. In what's becoming a reoccuring theme for my Barons, Justin Schultz walked the puck in through a tight Monsters D somehow, but the active stick of goaltender Sami Aitokallio knocked it away before he could get a wrister off. The very next time the Barons brought the puck into the zone, Ryan Martindale found Taylor Fedun coming down the far side of the slot, Stefan Elliott cheated in, and Fedun found a wide open Curtis Hamilton in Elliott's vacated circle. Aitokallio had no chance to make it back across. 1-0 Barons. The ice would remain tilted toward the Monsters' end for a good while. David van der Gulik made an ill-advised clearing pass that was picked off by Jordan Eberle, who came in all alone, and Aitokallio shut the door.
Things began to even out as both sides took rushes up and down the ice and passes finally began connecting. (Maybe the players were getting adjusted to the warm OKC barn.) van der Gulik brought the puck in on the near side and was removed from it at the blue line, but Bryan Lerg was there to pick up the loose puck and fire one on Barons goalie Olivier Roy. Roy made the save but it bounced right to a waiting Tyson Barrie, who chipped the rebound over his glove shoulder to tie the game at 1. Michael Sgarbossa had a glorious chance in front of Roy after some nifty passing work, but a quick stick from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made sure we went into the break tied.
Lake Erie set the tone coming out for the second, as Lerg delivered a hit behind the net that sent Schultz spinning, and it wasn't long after that a Paul Carey rush up the ice opened up space for Andrew Agozinno, who put a pretty soft goal behind Roy's glove side for a 2-1 lead. OKC struck back quickly, as Schultz worked some kind of stick wizardry and left Cameron Gaunce flapping in the breeze, then put one through Aitokallio's pads to tie the game at 2.
The game broke wide open at that point. After some sustained pressure from the Barons, a Monsters defenseman found Mark Olver streaking wide open through neutral ice, but he couldn't beat Roy on the breakaway. The Barons came the other way with three men to one, but Stefan Elliott was able to break the rush up. Magnus Pajaarvi then broke the tie with a rocket of a slapper from a mile away that Aitokallio really should have had. van der Gulik's rough night in the neutral zone continued as he got absolutely rocked by Barons defenseman Colton Teubert, and then gave up a hooking penalty for crosschecking Pajaarvi in the hands. But everything is hooking. The Monsters killed the penalty but would give up a 15-7 shot advantage in the second period as OKC seemed to be able to do everything but put another puck in the net. In the dying seconds of the period, Kyle Stollery got tied up with Antti Tyrvainen of the Barons, sticks ended up in skates, Tyrvainen went face down on the ice, Stollery went to the box for hooking (his skate, everything is hooking) and Tyrvainen went with him for egregious floppery.
The third period opened with a 3-2 Barons lead and a minute and a half of 4 on 4. The Barons' skill guys put on a show but Aitokallio was up to the task, stopping 3 tough shots in a row. Not long after returning to even strength Paul Carey was hit from behind in front of Roy before a pass could reach him, and Tyrvainen was sent to the box for interference (but it was called hooking because everything is hooking). 30 seconds later, after a puck bounced over Barrie's stick and he made a phenomenal play from his ass to break up a potential 2 on none, Pajaarvi rode Elliott hard into the far boards and joined Tyrvainen in the shame bin for boarding. The Monsters made good on the 2-man advantage, with a Thomas Pock blast from the point that I honestly thought Sgarbossa got a piece of, but according to the Barons' write up it went off of Teubert. Who knows. The Barons killed the remainder of the power play, but not long after, Carey broke away from the OKC defense and was flat-out stoned by Roy. Schultz scooped up the rebound and put it in section 319. On the ensuing power play, Stollery put a weak slap-pass toward the net that went off the stick of Barons penalty-killer Dane Byers, changed directions dramatically, and slid past the "NOOooo" of Olivier Roy to give Lake Erie the lead.
The Barons attempted to turn up the heat, but Lake Erie did a fantastic job slowing this one down late, clogging up passing lanes and setting up a solid forecheck between Mitchell Heard and Luke Walker. When OKC was finally able to set up some pressure, Agozinno was called for cross-checking Schultz to the ice ("hooking"), but the Monsters penalty kill was up to the task. A long stretch-pass with about 1:30 to play found Luke Walker with some space in front of Roy, but a strong shoulder from the Barons' Kristian Pelss caught him up high, and Pelss went to the box for an illegal check to the head. Walker didn't seem shaken up by the hit at all. OKC put their Oilers line out to kill the penalty and were nearly rewarded as Eberle broke free shorthanded up the near wing, but Aitokallio was able to keep it out. Olver would finally ice the game with a power play empty-netter.
3. Kyle Stollery
2. Justin Schultz
1. Tyson Barrie
Steve's Best Three Monsters of the Game
3. Whichever Baron was currently in the sinbin, as Lake Erie scored 3 of their 5 goals on the power play
2. Paul Carey, assisted on Agozinno's goal, was dangerous offensively all night, and had several takeaways in the neutral zone
1. Tyson Barrie, 1G 2A, general bausitude
The Monsters head to Texas for a game with the Stars Sunday night (s/t to those of you who knew the schedule better than me in the comments), then are back in OKC for a rematch on Tuesday night.