Barons coach Todd Nelson changing up the lines paid huge benefits the first game.
Three of the Barons' four lines found the net in a 5-1 American Hockey League win over San Antonio on Friday night at the Cox Convention Center.
Scoring three first-period goals, the Barons coasted to a win to end a five-game losing streak.
“We have firepower throughout our lineup,” said Jordan Eberle, who had a goal and an assist. “Any good team has depth. We definitely have that in our lineup. It's just a matter of it showing up every night.”
Outshooting the Rampage 17-8 in the first period, 35-26 for the game, the Barons peppered San Antonio goaltender Jacob Markstrom, the reigning AHL Player of the Week. Markstrom was pulled after two periods with OKC leading 4-1.
“I thought we were better all the way around,” Nelson said. “Sometimes when you change lines it gives you a fresh look. It paid off tonight.”
Taylor Hall and Eberle, two young stars who have played the past two seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, used some nifty stick work to give the Barons a 2-0 lead midway through the first period.
Eberle intercepted a pass from Rampage defenseman Michael Caruso to skate in uncontested to give the Barons a 1-0 lead. It was Eberle's 15th goal of the season which ties him with Syracuse's Tyler Johnson for the AHL lead.
“When Jordan scored that goal our whole bench lifted up,” Nelson said. “It was like, ‘OK, now we're off to the races.'”
Less than two minutes later, Hall charged out of the far corner with the puck and skated in uncontested for a 2-0 lead.
The third first-period goal for a 3-0 lead was scored by defenseman Colten Teubert. Markstrom was unaware the puck was sitting on the goal line. Teubert fought through traffic to poke in his second goal of the season.
“It's like a moon eclipse where it only happens once or twice a year,” joked Tebuert, who also had an assist. “It's all defense the rest of the year.”
The Rampage swept two one-goal games last weekend in San Antonio and had won three of the first four meetings. The Barons can tie the season series with a win Saturday night. It will be the fourth meeting in a week. Faceoff is 7:05 p.m.
“This is the AHL. It seems like you play each other a million times,” Teubert said. “You're like brothers by the end of it and you want to kill each other. Obviously they're a big team. We just have to know if we can win battles in front of the net we'll have chances to score.”
Play was chippy Friday with six fighting penalties, four roughing calls, two unsportsmanlike conducts and a game misconduct.
“Tempers obviously are starting to flare,” Nelson said. “It's like a playoff series. The intensity will rise. They wanted to try and set the tone for (Saturday). That's why all those extracurricular activities were going on. ”
The South Division rivals will play each other 12 times this season.
“Their team identity is a big, strong team,” Eberle said. “Down 5-1, you have to expect they're going to push back and try to send a message. At the end of the day we have to be smart, use our skill and realize we play them again (Saturday).”