Time may be running out for the Texas Stars, who currently trail the Oklahoma City Barons 3-1 in the best-of-seven Calder Cup semi-final series. The Stars dropped a 3-2 lead in the third period last night, allowing five goals in the final frame and falling to the Barons 7-3.
The Barons took the first lead of the series with a 2-1 overtime victory in game one last Thursday. Oklahoma City took the early lead in game one when Mark Arcobello found the net behind Cristopher Nilstorp with five minutes remaining in the first period.
The Stars tied it up in the second period when Jordie Benn fed Francis Wathier who slid the puck behind Oklahoma City goalie Yann Dannis with just four minutes remaining in the period.
Though both teams fought hard to end the battle in regulation, the game went into overtime for a brief minute and a half when Oklahoma City’s Anton Lander landed the game winner.
The Stars rebounded in game two though, tying the series at a game a piece on Saturday. Texas tallied the first goal on the scoreboard with just three minutes remaining in the first period. Mike Hedden landed his first goal of the Calder Cup playoffs off an errant shot by Jamie Oleksiak that ricocheted off the right post of Dannis.
Joe Morrow scored his first goal of the Calder Cup playoffs late in the second period, giving the Stars a 2-0 lead headed into the night’s final intermission.
The Barons wouldn’t stay silent though, shattering the Stars chance for a shutout with just under two minutes remaining in regulation. Dannis was pulled from the net, adding Arcobello to the zone, who pushed the Barons within a goal. Oklahoma City pulled Dannis yet again following the post-goal face off, but Nilstorp wouldn’t be shaken.
Oklahoma City posted the first shutout of the season against the Stars Monday night, closing out game three 4-0.
The Stars held off the Barons throughout the first period despite significant scoring opportunities on both ends. Toni Rajala put Oklahoma City up 1-0 just five minutes into the second period when a shot from the blue line slid through the legs of Nilstorp. Lander tacked on another goal for the Barons seven minutes later on a three-on-two rush.
Arcobello found the net for the third time in the series four minutes into the final frame, pushing the Barons to a 3-0 lead. With more than four minutes remaining in regulation, Texas pulled Nilstorp from the net for a six-on-four advantage, but it would be for naught. At 19:42, C.J. Stretch sent the puck from deep into the Barons’ zone into the Stars’ empty net.
Mimicking Monday night’s game, neither team posted a goal in the first period, but hit the ice following the first intermission with a vengeance.
Stretch opened up scoring, putting the Barons up 1-0 with a tip-in that slid behind Nilstorp just a minute and a half into the period. Five minutes later, the Stars tied it up when Brett Ritchie snagged a pass from Reilly Smith and sent the puck sailing behind Dannis. Colton Sceviour gave the Stars their first lead of the game with a power play goal at 13:13, but the Barons wouldn’t let Texas celebrate long when Arcobello landed the tying goal a minute and a half later. The Stars recorded the final goal before the second intermission, and regained a 3-2 lead, when Morrow slammed the puck past Dannis with less than two minutes left on the clock.
And then something broke down for Texas.
The teams hit the ice for the final frame, and the Barons began the biggest comeback of the series with a goal by Antti Tyrvainen, who picked up a rebound off Nilstorp’s pad seven minutes into the period. At 14:24, Taylor Fedun gave Oklahoma City the 4-3 lead with a shot that slid just inside the post. Arcobello launched the Barons to a 5-3 lead with two minutes remaining in regulation on a three-on-two that Nilstorp couldn’t catch. Texas pulled Nilstorp from the net in a feeble attempt to bring the Stars within striking range, but Tyrvainen sent the puck from deep into the Barons’ zone into the empty net just 30 seconds after Nilstorp headed for the bench. Garrett Stafford posted the final goal of the game with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation while the Barons were on the night’s last power play.
Game five, the make it or break it opportunity for Texas, kicks off tonight. Endurance will be a huge factor in the outcome, especially considering the effort put forth by Texas’ defense and Oklahoma’s offense last night. Scoring give goals in a single period isn’t easy on the legs, and being scored on five times in a period isn’t easy on the psyche.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. tonight in Oklahoma City.