Sunday, February 9, 2014

Checkers salvage a point in OT loss to Oklahoma City

After falling to the Charlotte Checkers in each of their first six matchups of the season, the Oklahoma City Barons got a measure of revenge this weekend.

After an 8-5 win on Friday, the Barons (21-22-6) completed a two-game sweep of the Checkers on Sunday with a 4-3 overtime win in front of a sellout crowd of 8,168 at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The Baron’s Roman Horak (four goals in the series) capitalized on a Brett Sutter turnover in his own zone 3:28 into the extra period of play to give Oklahoma City its fifth consecutive win overall.

Justin Shugg, Brendan Woods and Brody Sutter took care of the scoring for Charlotte, with Sutter’s goal coming with just 38 seconds remaining and goaltender Mike Murphy (26 saves on 30 shots) off the ice for an extra attacker. 

The game's final result led to some mixed emotions following the game.

“It’s exciting to tie it, but we needed the two points tonight,” said Brody Sutter. “There was some excitement for a couple minutes and then it switched to disappointment.”

The loss was the fourth in a row for the Checkers, who now enter the AHL’s All-Star break a game under .500 (22-23-2) and six points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“I think it was good to get that point,” said Woods. “But I know we’d be a lot happier if we went into the break with two points. You can look at the positive, we got one point, but with the standings so close, we really would have liked to have both.”

Shugg got the scoring started on the power play in the first period when he finished off a nice pass from Ryan Murphy. The goal was Shugg’s 12th of the season and snapped a string of 21 straight scoreless power play chances for the Checkers (their longest drought of the season).

The Barons scored the game’s next two goals, drawing even in the opening minutes of the second period on an Austin Fyten goal and pulling ahead, 2-1, on a Jack Combs goal that had to be reviewed.

Woods’s fifth strike of the season, tied things at 2-2 12 minutes and 17 seconds into the second.

“Today was a good step,” said Woods, who dropped the gloves with veteran enforcer Ben Eager in the game, of his play. “I think I’ve been struggling a little bit the past couple games, but I had a meeting with (coach Jeff Daniels) and we talked about what’s going to make me successful and I thought I did well tonight, but I’d rather have two points.”

The Barons again responded, taking a 3-2 lead six and a half minutes into the third thanks to a Will Acton goal.

The score stayed that way until Brody Sutter batted home a rebound in the final minute of play. The goal was his second in as many games and it provided a short-lived burst of excitement.

Following the break, the Checkers will return to action for a pair of games at PNC Arena in Raleigh on Friday and Sunday against the Abbotsford Heat.

“It will probably be good to mentally get away,” said Daniels. “Obviously, it hasn’t been a good couple weeks and we know we have to make a big push coming up and a lot of these games coming up are on the road so it will be a good time for the guys to mentally get away, regroup, and come back ready to play."