Barons fans have a rare treat watching two future NHL All-Stars play in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout.
But until Tuesday night’s 4-3 win over Lake Erie, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle had combined for only three points in five games.
It was just a matter of time before shots on goal became goals.
“If people were worried, I wasn’t, not at all,” said Eberle, who had just one point (a goal) in his first four games while Nugent-Hopkins had only two assists.
Eberle was an NHL All-Star last season who led the Edmonton Oilers in scoring. Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, was an NHL Rookie of the Year finalist.
“I actually thought we’d played well the first four games, but nothing was going in,” Eberle said. “All of a sudden, tonight, we get five chances and four go in (all on the power play).”
Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle tripled their point totals in Tuesday’s win. Nugent-Hopkins scored two goals and added an assist. Eberle scored his second goal of the season and also chipped in two helpers. Eberle also had a goal disallowed because he booted it past Monsters goalie Chet Pickard.
“I actually had one just like that last year in Edmonton and they counted it, but …”
Nugent-Hopkins scored the game-winner on an awkward pass from Eberle early in the third period.
“It’s been building (an offensive breakthrough),” Nugent-Hopkins said. “We did get lots of bounces in this one.”
Allowed to play in the American Hockey League because they’re still in their entry-level NHL contracts, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle are embracing the opportunity to play during the lockout while many veterans sit at home.
The Oilers’ two young stars arrived in Oklahoma City nearly a month ago, not knowing how long their AHL trip would last.
“I probably over-packed,” said Nugent-Hopkins.
Nugent-Hopkins’ and Eberle’s temporary AHL experience continues Friday night at the Cox Convention Center when the Barons host the Houston Aeros.