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OKC Barons beat Charlotte, win series

Barons will face Texas in Western semifinals starting Thursday in Cedar Park, Texas
BY BILL KISER, For The Oklahoman Modified: May 4, 2013 at 11:34 pm •  Published: May 4, 2013
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photo - Charlotte Checkers  Nicolas Blanchard (26)(left),tries to get the puck past  Oklahoma City Barons goalie Yann Danis (35)(center), C.J. Stretch (20)(right),  in the first period,during Saturday night's  game 5 of the best -of-7 American Hockey League playoff series played at Time Warner Cable Arena  May 04,2013. Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com  ORG XMIT:  B584588827Z.1
Charlotte Checkers Nicolas Blanchard (26)(left),tries to get the puck past Oklahoma City Barons goalie Yann Danis (35)(center), C.J. Stretch (20)(right), in the first period,during Saturday night's game 5 of the best -of-7 American Hockey League playoff series played at Time Warner Cable Arena May 04,2013. Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com ORG XMIT: B584588827Z.1

Oklahoma City needed a strong game from its defense early after giving up a goal to Charlotte's Riley Nash with nine minutes left in the first period, and a second to Bobby Raymond with 2:23 remaining that tied the score at 2-2.

But the Barons were able to string together goals quickly Saturday, especially against Charlotte goalie Rob Madore.

Their first two (by Cheechoo and Lander) came over a 40-second span with 6:30 left in the first period. The next two (by Hartikainen and Green) came over a 1:38 run midway through the second to put Oklahoma City ahead to stay and chase Madore, who was replaced by John Muse.

“Scoring quickly gave us a lot of momentum,” Nelson said.

The Barons would add an insurance goal late in the second period from Rajala, and an three-quarters-rink, empty-net goal by Hotham with 1:26 remaining in the third period.

Danis — whose previous season high on saves was 43 in an overtime win over Milwaukee on Nov. 16 — came up big for a second straight game for Oklahoma City, especially during Charlotte's power-play opportunities.

After holding the Checkers to an 0-for-4 effort on power plays in Game 4, Danis and the Barons' penalty kill blanked them again in Saturday's game (0-5).

“We did a great job of blocking shots,” Danis said. “The guys cleared the front and I was able to see the puck really well. If there was a rebound, they were taking care of it.

“We know that if we play well, if we play our game, we can beat anyone. I'm not too worried about who we're playing. I'm just going to worry about how we play. If we play the way we played the last two games, we should be OK.”