TORONTO — On a day when one lucky man survived a plunge over Niagara Falls not far down the highway from Ricoh Coliseum, the Oklahoma City Barons couldn't generate any good fortune of their own in dropping a 5-3 decision to the Toronto Marlies in Game 3 of the American Hockey League's Western Conference final.
Matt Frattin's second goal of the game with just 2:02 proved to be the difference as the Marlies sniper ripped a shot just inside the Barons' blue line that fooled Barons goalie Yann Danis and sealed the Toronto victory.
“I thought our team played a strong game,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “We made a few brain cramps that resulted in two goals against. We have to clean that up and get ready for a big game on Wednesday.”
Their victory gives the Marlies a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series with Game 4 slated for Wednesday night at the same venue tucked in along the shores of Lake Ontario.
The Barons erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits. Although they eventually drew even, Frattin's first goal off a turnover in the Barons' zone just 48 seconds after Chris VandeVelde had tied it at two was the best example of some shaky play at inopportune times for Nelson's normally reliable road team. The Barons suffered their first road loss during the playoffs.
Frattin now has eight goals in just 11 playoff games.
With the score 2-0 and the near-full house of 7,327 coming to life inside Ricoh, the Barons' Bryan Rodney rifled a laser past Marlies goaltender Ben Scrivens to get to within one. Just 1:29 later, VandeVelde fought his way through traffic to chip in a rebound and temporarily bring his side back to even terms.
Magnus Paajarvi had the other Barons goal that knotted the game at three.
Scrivens stopped 25 shots in a winning cause, while Danis made 21 saves. Inconsistent efforts at generating traffic in front of Scrivens could explain some of the reasons why it took so long for the Barons to break through.
Nelson said making things a bit more difficult for Scrivens is the goal for Wednesday night.
“I thought there were times where we did a good job at (getting in front of Scrivens) and other times we didn't,” he said. “Toronto certainly did a much better job of it in front of Yann (Danis).”
Despite outshooting Toronto 13-9 in the first period, the Barons fell behind 1-0 when Toronto's Philippe Dupuis threaded a puck through traffic on a power-play at 12:35. Toronto's Ryan Hamilton also scored a power-play marker on the Marlies' second goal at 14:57 in the second. Hamilton's goal was the first of four in just over four minutes in the middle frame breaking open what had been a tight checking affair to that point.
Toronto's Jerry D'Amigo scored on an empty net while short-handed to round out the scoring at 18:53 of the third.