Heading into Tuesday's night game between the Oklahoma City Barons and the Rockford IceHogs, things seemed out of whack.
The IceHogs, currently out of the playoff picture in the American Hockey League's Western Conference, entered as one of the hottest teams in the league. Rockford was unbeaten in regulation in its last eight games, with seven wins.
Meanwhile the Barons, currently atop the Western Conference standings, have struggled during the month of March with only one win in six tries (1-2-2-1), but they have scored standings points in four of their last five games.
Tuesday night marked a return to normalcy. The Barons won their first game in regulation since Feb. 22 as they defeated Rockford, 5-2, before 2,400 fans at the Cox Convention Center.
Barons defenseman Taylor Chorney, who scored two goals, said Oklahoma City was due for a game like this.
“I think we have been building on a night like tonight for about a week or so,” Chorney said. “I don't think we can pretend that we weren't in a little bit of a rut, but you can't just snap your fingers and say we are playing good again. You've got to chip away at it.
“I think tonight was the best 60-minute effort that we have put together in a couple of months. Hopefully, we have kind of turned the corner now and will go on the road and get some more wins.”
Barons coach Todd Nelson said his squad has been playing well in March even though Tuesday's victory was only their second of the month.
Oklahoma City raced to a 3-0 lead, scoring in the first period on a power-play goal just a minute after killing off a five-minute penalty.
Magnus Paajarvi passed from the faceoff circle to Josh Green, who fired the puck in front of the net to Teemu Hartikainen for the goal and a 1-0 Barons lead at 13:08.
“I think the key to the game was that five-minute kill we had and then scoring right away on the power play right after that,” Nelson said. “I think that was the turning point, even though the game was early.”