Before Tuesday's Game 4 against Houston, Barons winger Teemu Hartikainen said there was a different atmosphere around the team.
“You just felt in the locker room, everyone was so into tonight,” Hartikainen said. “Everyone was ready to go and do whatever it takes to win. I think we felt a little too good after the first two games.”
It wasn't as pretty as the first two games of the series in Houston, but the Barons got the job done, beating the Aeros 5-2 in front of 1,922 at the Cox Center to advance to the second round of the AHL's Calder Cup playoffs.
The Barons won the series 3-1.
“It's a great step in the right direction,” Mark Arcobello said. “It's the first step of hopefully a long playoff run here. We're going to take a couple days with this and get focused into the next round.”
Arcobello got the scoring started six minutes in, and the line of Arcobello, Tyler Pitlick and Hunter Tremblay double-shifted in the second period.
The Barons will open the second round at home, likely sometime next week, although the opponent is still to be decided. If San Antonio wins its series against Chicago, the Barons would play the Rampage. If Chicago wins that series, the Barons would play the winner of the Abbotsford-Milwaukee series.
The Barons twice took a one-goal lead in the first two periods before the Aeros answered.
But Dylan Yeo blasted a shot past Mike Brodeur just before the midpoint of the second to put the Barons ahead for good.
At nearly the same point in the third, Anton Lander helped get Brodeur out of position, fed it to Philippe Cornet out front and Cornet stayed patient, finally flipping the puck above Brodeur and putting the Barons ahead 4-2.
“My heart wasn't racing as much after he scored that goal,” Barons coach Todd Nelson said. “He got my attention because I was yelling for him to shoot right away. But he's a goal scorer. He has good poise in those situations. He made the right move, and I'm very happy that he buried it.”
Josh Green added an empty-netter in the closing minutes to seal the win.
“It wasn't the prettiest of games tonight for either team,” Nelson said. “It was a greasy win, when you just have to battle through it. There wasn't a lot of sharp passing and offensive plays. It was just a grind.”
The Barons killed all 13 Houston power plays in the series.
“I think tonight we came a lot more focused and willing to win,” Yeo said. “The guys were really revved up and ready to play tonight. It was good to see and great to watch.”