|Mark Arcobello (Credit: Jennifer Ramos/Texas Stars)|
Jamie Oleksiak and Travis Morin were the Stars' goal scorers in the contest. Morin's 27th tally of the season tied his own franchise record for points in a season at 66. It was one of only a few bright spots in the game.
"I don't think we played well enough," said Coach Desjardins. "OKC played well, they didn't give us a lot. Our special teams weren't good enough the past few games and that's the difference between winning and losing."
Barons head coach Todd Nelson was impressed by his teams' effort on the PK and PP in the two games.
"Special teams were huge. The power play created a few goals. We did a good job on the PK against the best power play in the league."
The Stars had a chance to move into first place in the conference with a win but will instead fall to fourth in the conference as Abbotsford passes them for first in the West Division.
"It's a tough loss to swallow," said Jamie Oleksiak. "The work ethic was there, but we couldn't execute. We have to bury those chances and get out of this funk."
Reflecting on the homestand, he continued, "You cant take any game lightly . We had a really good first half of the year and got a little bit too confident."
Coach Desjardins summed it up, "If you're going to be a playoff team, there's a lot of things we have to do better."
Josh Robinson took the loss, stopping 27 of 32 shots against. Richard Bachman got the win, stopping 35 of 37.
The night started inauspiciously with OKC opening the scoring off the stick of recent assignee Mark Arcobello. Coming into the game tonight, the center had seven goals and nineteen assists in 26 career games against Texas. He added to that total as Steve Pinizzotto dished out front to Arcobello who backhanded the puck past the Josh Robinson along the ice far side.
"[Arcobello]'s an exceptional hockey player at this level," said Nelson. "It's good on him to make the Oilers but to get him back gives us more depth. It gives us more offensive productivity. He's also good defensively."
Two minutes later, the Barons were awarded a penalty shot as he was hooked heading into the net alone. Eager's attempt was gloved down by Robinson and the score stayed at 1-0.
A few minutes later on the power play, the Barons struck again with Taylor Fedun finding twine. The shot from the left point was one that Robinson really should have had. He had a bead on it and it just fluttered past his glove and in for the 2-0 OKC lead. The Stars were outshot 10-8 in the frame.
The two clubs traded goals in the second period. Texas was on the offensive, working to even up the score with a mess of shots on Richard Bachman. They finally got lucky when Jamie Oleksiak's point shot from the right side got through traffic to cut the Barons' lead to 2-1.
"It felt good [to score]," said Oleksiak. "But it's not the result you want."
Possible future Idaho Steelheads teammates Ryan Button and Austin Fyten threw down a few minutes later. Button threw quite a few solid punches and each picked up an extra two for taking off their helmets before the fight.
It would be OKC getting the last laugh in the middle frame though. With less than a minute to go in the period, Texas failed to convert on a 3-on-1 breakaway. The main reason was a well-timed poke check by Bachman on the crossing pass. The counterpunch for the Barons went straight up the ice, similarly 3-on-1, as Jack Combs passed to Martin Gernat and he dished it back to Combs for the 3-1 lead. It was Combs' third goal of the season, all scored in the last seven games since he was traded to OKC. He was scoreless in 19 games with San Antonio this season.
After giving up the goal in the last minute, Texas responded exactly how you would want. They scored one of their own just 29 seconds into the final period. It was Travis Morin's tally, his 27th of the year, and tied his own franchise points record at 66, previously set in 2011-12.
Texas had a shot ring off the post from the stick of Maxime Fortunus in the 12th minute of the third. The Stars followed that with a power play that could not score, ultimately going 0-for-4 on the night.
With time winding down, Taylor Peters took an ill-advised tripping penalty and OKC made Texas pay. This time it was Anton Lander, who ripped a shot from the top of the left wing circle. The goal put the game out of reach for Texas after they had been showing all the right signs. Ben Eager added an empty netter with time winding down to set the score at 5-2.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ranford, Wrenn, Montgomery (scratch)
Petersen, Nemeth, Campbell, Vause (injury)
Josh Robinson got the start as Cristopher Nilstorp was "sick", according to Coach Desjardins.
Tonight's attendance was 4,256.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Oklahoma City - February 4 2014