NUGENT-HOPKINS LEADS BARONS TO 4-3 VICTORY
By Richard Immel,
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has emerged in Oklahoma City giving the Barons his best performance of the season, scoring two goals and the game-winner in a tightly contested 4-3 victory over the Lake Erie Monsters Tuesday evening at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
The Barons power play finally emerged and was the key to victory for Oklahoma City. The Barons accounted for each of its goals during power plays, going four of seven on the evening.
The Barons found themselves in an early hole as left wing Antti Tyrvainen was charged with a five-minute major for spearing and a game misconduct. Working short-handed, Barons standout Jordan Eberle broke away from the pack and appeared to score the first Barons goal of the night, however the goal was reviewed by officials and disallowed. The officials ruled Eberle distinctly kicked the puck off his skate and into the net.
Less than a minute after the review Lake Erie’s Bryan Lerg scored the first goal of the evening against the still short-handed Barons with 1:04 left in the five-minute power play.
Then came the moment Oklahoma City fans have been waiting for. At the 9:33 mark of the first period the trio of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Justin Schultz struck gold as “the Nuge” scored his first goal in the American Hockey League on a smooth wrist shot from just below the blue line. Eberle and Schultz were credited with the assists on the play.
Both teams added one goal each to make it 2-2 at the end of the first period. Jordan Eberle being one of those scores as he recorded his second goal of the season for the Barons. The Barons lead the shot count after one 15 to 13.
The intensity did not recede in the second period with both teams continuing the chippiness throughout. Teemu Hartikainen added the Barons third power-play goal of the contest at the 6:41 mark in the second period.
Lake Erie responded quickly after Barons center Chris VandeVelde was called for hooking resulting in a Monsters power play. The Monster’s Lerg netted his second goal of the contest 21 seconds into the power play, tying the game yet again at 3 goals apiece.
The second period would conclude with the 3-3 tie and the Barons leading the shot count 23 to 18. It would all come down to the third period in Oklahoma City, similar to the last meeting between these two teams.
Oklahoma City held a 3-2 lead going into the third when these two teams met three days ago, with Lake Erie scoring three goals in the final period to steal the road victory.
It would be a different final script for the Barons Tuesday night led in the third period by the 2011 #1 overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Nugent-Hopkins scored the game-winning goal at the 4:45 mark in the third period from deep in the slot. He was assisted on the goal once again by Eberle and Schultz giving the trio each their third point of the evening.
Barons Goaltender Yann Danis recorded 28 saves in the victory. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was awarded first star of the game with two goals and one assist. Justin Shultz was named second star and Jordan Eberle third star.
This meeting marks the last between Oklahoma City and Lake Erie during the regular season. The teams spilt two games apiece during their four meetings. Oklahoma City will be back in action Oct. 26 when they face off against Houston in Oklahoma City at 7 p.m.
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