BARONS WINS SERIES WITH 6-2 WIN AT CHARLOTTE
By Jim Byers,
The Oklahoma City Barons advanced to the AHL's Western Conference semi-finals on Saturday by breaking a 2-2 tie with three second-period goals in a 6-2 win in the fifth and deciding game over the Charlotte Checkers at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Barons won the final two games of the series in Charlotte after dropping behind in the series 2-1 on Wednesday. Oklahoma City opens its second-round, best-of-seven series against the No. 1 seeded Texas Stars on Thursday at 7:30 pm CDT at Cedar Park Center in Cedar Park, Texas. The Barons were 8-3-0-1 against the Stars this season. The full series schedule is available here.
Teemu Hartikainen and Toni Rajala each had a goal and two assists, while linemate Anton Lander produced a goal and an assist. Goaltender Yann Danis stopped 49 of 51 Charlotte shots, both Barons playoff highs.
A wide-open first period saw Charlotte out-shoot Oklahoma City 21-13 and each team have a shot at the lead. Charlotte opened the scoring with a goal at 10:56 by Riley Nash in the deep slot after a giveaway back of the Barons' net. Oklahoma City then took the lead 2-1 with a pair of goals 40 seconds apart. Jonathan Cheechoo put in his own rebound at 13:30, followed by Lander sliding one past starter Rob Madore from in deep at 14:10.
The Checkers drew even at 2-2 when Bobby Raymond slipped down from the point and converted a Brody Sutter centering pass at 17:37.
The Barons scored all three goals in the second period to open a 5-2 advantage through two periods. Hartikainen shot one past Madore from the right-wing circle at 9:57. Josh Green executed a wrap-around at 11:35 to make it 4-2, resulting in Madore being lifted for the second straight game. Rajala snapped home high glove side past relief goaltender John Muse at 16:07.
Madore took the loss, stopping 13 of 17 shots.
Andrew Hotham completed the scoring with an empty-net goal at 18:34 of the third period as the Barons advanced to the second round for the second straight season.
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