The Oklahoma City Barons’ club record home “unbeaten” streak ended Friday night.
Defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids never trailed en route to a 3-2 win in front of 3,294 fans at the Cox Convention Center.
It was the Barons first regulation home loss in two months. In their previous nine home games, Oklahoma City was 8-0-1.
“We got outworked,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “We have to move past this and get back in the saddle (Saturday). You can’t get outworked by a team that played the previous night.”
Special teams played a key role. The Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings Triple-A affiliate, scored two power play goals and killed off all five penalties.
“We weren’t able to connect,” said forward Andrew Miller, who scored in his first game back after being sidelined two months with a broken hand. “We’ve got to bear down on the power play.”
The Barons (29-25-8) feature one of the American Hockey League’s top power-play units, but the flip side, their penalty-kill, ranks 29th out of 30 teams.
In their last three games, the Barons have surrendered six power-play goals. Two of Grand Rapids’ three goals Friday night were with the man advantage.
“Both parts of our special teams weren’t very good tonight,” Nelson said. “Our power play lacked execution, and our PK has to be better than that.”
After the Griffins (38-18-6) scored twice early in the third period to go up 3-1, Barons forward Mark Arcobello added to his franchise record scoring streak by taking advantage of a turnover in front of the Griffins net with 5:45 left.
Unlike other games during the home “unbeaten” streak, the Barons failed to score the equalizer. Grand Rapids outshot OKC 29-26 to move to the top of the Western Conference standings.
“It was one of those nights our guys looked like they just didn’t have it,” Nelson said. “We’ve played a lot of hockey lately. Hopefully it’s not catching up to us.
“I think our guys will be a lot better (Saturday night). We turned the puck over too often, and that’s usually a sign you’re not working hard enough. Grand Rapids is a very good hockey team where you can’t make those type of mistakes.”