“Getting Yann back certainly helped,” Nelson said. “And our special teams have been better. All that stuff combined it's starting to come together.”
Veteran Jonathan Cheechoo, who has played in 501 NHL games, said another key factor has been improved play in the third period.
“We've been able to lock down some wins,” Cheechoo said. “When I got here we were letting teams back in games, sometimes losing two points. We've been better on defense and the penalty kill which are big in the third period.”
Instead of focusing on the big picture, Nelson and his staff have broken down the last 25 games into five-game segments the past month.
OKC has 10 games left in the regular season. A new five-game segment begins Friday night against the Stars.
“I think smaller goals have helped us,” Nelson said. “We don't want to get too far ahead. We know it's going to be a dogfight to the end. I like where we're at right now but every one of these last 10 games will be big.”
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BARONS at TEXAS STARS
* When: 7 p.m. Friday
* Where: Cedar Park Center (Cedar Park, Texas).
* Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1, Jim Byers play-by-play.
* Scouting report: The Stars lead the Western Conference but the Barons have dominated the season series, going 7-3-1, although five of the wins were when Edmonton young stars Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Justin Schultz were playing in OKC during the NHL lockout... Barons forward Mark Arcobello, who has moved into the top 10 in the AHL in scoring (57 points), has scored 11 points in 10 games against Houston... The Stars' top scorer Matt Fraser currently is with Dallas. Their leading scorer on the roster is Colton Soeviour (44 points)... Texas goalie Cristopher Nilstorp is 18-10-8 with a 2.27 goals against average.