With Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish in attendance, Oklahoma City Barons team captain Anton Lander came up big in his attempt to return to the NHL.
Lander supplied the go-ahead goal early in the third period in a Barons' 3-1 win over the San Antonio Rampage Saturday night at the Cox Convention Center.
The 22-year-old center won a race for a loose puck in San Antonio's defensive zone. Lander fired a shot from the point that hit the right post and trickled over the goal line, his ninth goal in 17 games with the Barons.
“My focus is to go out and win the game and keep working on my game regardless who is in the crowd,” Lander said. “I didn't even know he was here. Whether it's my dad, my family or MacTavish, I've always believed you have to focus on the right things.”
Lander appeared in one game with the Oilers earlier this season. He has spent the bulk of the season with the Barons in the American Hockey League, scoring 15 points in 17 games with OKC.
A second-round pick four years ago, the 40th overall selection, Lander appeared in 56 games with the Oilers two years ago as a 20-year-old rookie.
Lander has split time between Edmonton and OKC the past three seasons — 68 games with Edmonton, 78 games with Oklahoma City. But most of his ice time the past two seasons has been with the Barons.
“Anton has really worked on his offense,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “That will help him at the next level. Here he's playing on the No. 1 line. Up there he might only play on the third or fourth line but this will help him have the confidence so if he gets called up he can chip in some points.”
Matthew Ford gave the Barons a 1-0 lead late in the first period, scoring his fifth goal of the season off a nice pass from Curtis Hamilton from behind the net.
The Rampage tied the game midway through the second period on a John Lee goal. Lander's goal gave OKC the lead. Ford added a length-of-the-ice empty-netter with 2.4 seconds left.
Two goals were all OKC needed. Laurent Brossoit, a 20-year-old rookie, stopped 30 of 31 shots in his first home start with the Barons.
“He was excellent,” Nelson said. “He was tested and made some really big saves for us. Our goaltending has been pretty strong all year. It's a matter of getting the young guys in front of them playing more consistent.”
The Barons have played six different goaltenders the first two months of the season.
“It hasn't mattered which goaltender we've had in the net,” Ford said. “They've all given us a chance in every game. (Brossoit) was really good tonight, especially in the second period when he kept it a 1-1 game to give us an opportunity to win it in the third (period).”