The Edmonton Oilers' young stars playing in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout fueled an improbable, late-game rally Tuesday afternoon, but the Barons still left the Cox Convention Center with a loss.
The Barons trailed Toronto by four goals after one period. OKC was still down three with just over three minutes left. A frantic Barons rally tied the game with 21 seconds left in regulation, but the Marlies won 6-5 in overtime.
“That's one of the craziest games I've ever played in,” said Barons forward Jordan Eberle. “It was pretty obvious the start (was bad). ... But after that first period, it seemed like we found our game. It goes to show our character. But at the end of the day we lost, and it was due to the poor start.”
Considering the Barons trailed 4-0 after one period and were down 5-2 with just over three minutes left, one standings point was a consolation prize in front of 4,826 fans on Kids Field Trip Day.
“I thought we did a great job of sticking with it,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “We obviously need that kind of effort throughout the whole game. If we had played that way the whole game, we'd have won for sure.”
The Oilers' young stars accounted for four of OKC's five goals. Nugent-Hopkins scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season and had an assist. Eberle contributed four assists. Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist. Defenseman Jordan Schultz had two assists.
Nugent-Hopkins' first goal came with 3:16 to play after officials reviewed the tape. Teemu Hartikainen's tip-in off Eberle's shot with 2:03 left set the stage for a dramatic finish.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, Nugent-Hopkins scored with 21.9 seconds left in regulation to tie it 5-5 after OKC pulled goaltender Yann Danis.
“I saw the guy come off the bench for us so I knew it was six-on-five,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “It was almost like a power play. I shot it on net and it went in.”
The Barons tied the franchise record with four power-play goals in the game, but Toronto won it with 27.8 seconds left in overtime, two seconds after the Barons had killed off a penalty.
OKC outshot the Marlies 34-19 in regulation but didn't dent into Toronto's early four-goal lead until Hall scored late in the second period. Mark Arcobello's power play goal early in the third period cut it to 4-2. The Marlies answered with a power-play goal to go up 5-2 with 12:50 remaining.
It appeared to be a safe lead, especially with four minutes left. The Barons, though, scored three late goals in a three-minute span to tie it up.
“The second period I thought we really took it to them,” Eberle said. “Going into the third period it was 4-1, but I thought it should at least been 4-3. We were getting a lot of chances. We just couldn't score. We knew it was going to come. We stuck with it and found a way to tie it up.”
Toronto scored 36 just seconds into the game and built a 4-0 cushion with three goals in the final 2½ minutes of the first period, taking advantage of OKC's backside defensive mistakes.
“It's obvious we can't give up a four-goal lead in the first period,” Nelson said. “Two goals was our coverage, guys being lazy. ... Our offensive play was pretty strong. Obviously our power play was working. We battled back to get a point, so there were some positives.”