The only thing the Barons won Friday night was a fight, as defenseman Colten Teubert got the best of Houston's Brett Bulmer in a gloves-off, third-period showdown.
Houston outshot and outplayed the Barons, but the teams somehow were tied after two periods. The Aeros continued to control play, scoring two third-period goals to leave the Cox Convention Center with a 6-4 win.
“This is unacceptable,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “It just comes down to getting ready for the game. There was no emotion today in the pregame skate. There was no emotion on the bench. We've got to come ready to play.”
The Barons played most of the final two periods without Edmonton Oilers 19-year-old star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who left early in the second period after some of his teeth were pushed back after he took a stick to the face.
“That had an impact,” Nelson said. “But it wasn't just that. As a group, we didn't come to play tonight. We were very lethargic in a lot of different areas.”
The most glaring stat was Houston outshot OKC 39-20. The Barons were fortunate to be tied 4-4 after two periods.
“We just got outcompeted,” said winger Jordan Eberle. “We were sloppy in our own end, moving the puck up. Once we got the puck up (ice), we turned it over too many times at the blue line.”
The Barons fired 30 or more shots on goal in each of their first five games and were among the league leaders, averaging nearly 33 shots a game.
In Friday's loss, it was the Aeros who were peppering Yann Danis, the reigning AHL goaltender of the year.
“He was left hanging when you give up (nearly) 40 shots,” Nelson said. “That's something we don't normally do.”
The Aeros outshot the Barons in all three periods, but OKC still had a chance.
Trailing 5-4, the Barons appeared to gain momentum when they killed off a 5-on-3 Houston power play midway through the third period.
The Barons, though, failed to cash in on two ensuing power-play chances of their own. Houston removed any late-game drama when Justin Fontaine scored with 4:48 to play.
“We were not focused today,” said Magnus Paajarvi, who scored a goal and added an assist. “We did mistakes that we don't usually do, what we're known for not doing. It was a bad game, for sure.”
Houston scored the first two goals of the second period to take a 4-3 lead, but Barons second-line center Mark Arcobello scored his second goal of the game with 18 seconds left in the second period to tie it 4-4.
But the third period was more of the same. The Aeros applied pressure while the Barons were plagued by too many turnovers and too few shots.
“It was sloppy,” Eberle said. “We didn't execute passing the puck, getting it out of our own end. At the end of the day it (ticks) you off. We've got to move forward. We've got a game Sunday. We've got to get back to basics.”
The Barons have been hailed as an AHL dream because of several young Edmonton stars that are playing in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout. But two weeks into the season the Barons are 3-3-0.
“We've got to step on the gas,” Paajarvi said. “We can't win one, lose one. We've got the kind of team to really build a streak. We've got a team that can compete for the championship. This is not OK. Winning one and losing one is not going to cut it.”