With the Barons' 5-2 win Saturday night evening the series at 1-1, Oklahoma City's best-of-five, first-round playoff series becomes a best two-of-three in Charlotte. Game 3 is Wednesday night, Game 4 Friday night. If necessary, Game 5 would be played Saturday night.
Oklahoma City played well on the road in the final seven weeks of the regular season, going 9-1-2.
“If we didn't have that (road) stretch where we had done really well this might be a daunting task,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “But we have a lot of confidence. We feel comfortable on the road.”
NELSON SWITCHES UP LINES
Nelson put rookie Toni Rajala back on the No. 1 line with Mark Arcobello and Jonathan Cheechoo. It paid off big time with that line accounting for four goals.
The No. 2 line featured Teemu Hartikainen, Philippe Cornet and Chris VandeVelde. In the lower lines, forwards Antti Tyrvainen and Ben Eager replaced Darcy Hordichuk and Curtis Hamilton, who played in Game 1 but didn't suit up for Game 2.
“The No. 1 line had a big night and that No. 2 line is a hardworking line with some skill,” Nelson said. “But I thought all four lines complemented each other.”
DEFENSE IS MUCH IMPROVED
Charlotte's four goals in Game 1 Friday night marked the first time since March 9 — a span of 20 games — the Barons allowed more than three goals.
Veteran defensemen Randy Jones and Garrett Stafford have provided stability. Martin Marincin and Taylor Fedun steadily have improved. Brandon Davidson returned after undergoing cancer treatments. Alex Plante has played his best hockey at the end of the season.
“Defense wins games,” said Jones, who scored a goal and had two assists in Saturday's win. “It's tough to run-and-gun and win each night. But I don't take any credit away from Daner (goalie Yann Danis). He's played unbelievable for us. He's a big reason why we got into the playoffs.”
The defense has improved so much that Colten Teubert, once viewed as a key member in Edmonton's long-term plans, has been a healthy scratch for Games 1 and 2.
PLANTE OUT INDEFINITELY
Plante's availability the remainder of the series is in question after he took a puck to the jaw early in the third period.
“It's preliminary but he'll probably be lost for the rest of this series,” Nelson said. “We have to see if there's anything broken. Guys have played with a broken jaw but Sidney Crosby had a broken jaw and he's still out. We'll have to see what they find out.”