A questionable penalty call in the final 2 1/2 minutes made things tough on the Barons on Friday night.
And even though coach Todd Nelson insisted it wasn't what cost his team the American Hockey League game in a 2-1 loss to Charlotte, it sure looked to be that way.
The Checkers closed out the Barons with a power-play goal by Matthew Pistilli with 43.3 seconds remaining. It came off a pretty and perfectly-timed setup by Bobby Sanguinetti and Riley Nash.
But who knows how that game-clinching sequence might have been different had it not been for that questionable call?
It came 1 minute, 36 seconds earlier, when Barons defenseman Colten Teubert was called for roughing. Teubert made contact with a Checkers player shortly after a whistle for an offside play. The referee apparently thought it was excessive.
“I thought it was one of those things where he was just going to call the penalty just because of the late hit or whatever,” Nelson said. “I'll have to take a look at it on tape. But in those situations, we got to make sure that if we do hit somebody it's a clean hit. It could be questionable, but it doesn't really matter now because the ref made the call. That wasn't the issue in the game.”
That didn't keep it from stinging.
“It does, for sure,” said Barons captain Bryan Helmer. “It could have been a questionable call, but he made the call. It's unfortunate that they got a goal at the end.”
Oddly enough, the Barons entered Friday's game 22-for-23 in penalty kills at home. They were 3-for-3 in penalty kills before the game-winning goal.
“We shouldn't have been in that position anyway,” Nelson said. “You got to give Charlotte a lot of credit. They played a very strong game. But we were flat the whole game. We weren't generating much.
“To be quite honest with you, I don't think we deserved to win that game. I thought they outworked us tonight.”
The Barons fell to 4-2-0-1 but took three out of five on their five-game home stand.
“We played pretty well here,” Nelson said. “Our home stand was pretty solid, I thought. Out of 10 points, we got seven, so that's pretty successful. So we can build off that.”
Oklahoma City fell behind 1-0 in the first period on a goal by Jerome Sampson at 13:57. The Barons pulled even when Mark Arcobello notched his first goal of the season at 4:08 in the second period. He was assisted by Ryan Lowery and Hunter Tremblay.
But in a game the Barons think should be a wake-up call, the last-minute goal by the Checkers served only as confirmation.
“It's a tough loss, but we got to put it behind us because we have a game less than 24 hours away,” Helmer said.
Oklahoma City plays in Houston at 7:35 p.m. Saturday. The Barons wrap up the weekend with a 3:30 p.m. game Sunday at San Antonio.