“It's the playoffs, and everyone tightens up,” Cheechoo said. “You have two skilled teams going against each other, and then you see that, and a lot of times you get more of a defensive hockey game. You know what the other team is capable of, so I think that's the way it played out tonight.”
Grand Rapids scored the eventual game-winning goal early in the second period. Landon Ferraro slammed a shot in past Barons' goaltender Yann Danis off a wraparound pass from Tomas Jurco.
The Barons failed to get the equalizer, and were 0-for-3 on the power play. Oklahoma City's penalty kill stopped all four of Grand Rapids' power play chances.
Both teams had 28 shots on goal.
“We did some pretty decent things, and I thought our penalty kill was strong tonight and we had some pretty good looks on the power play,” Nelson said. “We did not capitalize, but we had some pretty good opportunities, and I just think we need better execution. Getting more traffic in front of the net and getting shots through.”
Danis made 26 saves for Oklahoma City, while Mrazek stopped 27 shots.
The Barons will look to even the series Saturday before it shifts to Oklahoma City for the next three games.
“We did some good things tonight, but there are things we need to do better,” Hotham said. “And we'll work on that, and we'll talk about it (Saturday) morning. Anytime you go on the road you want to get that split, and we'll have that opportunity (Saturday).”