TORONTO — A familiar theme played out again in Canada's biggest city on Wednesday night as the Oklahoma City Barons dropped a game in which they deserved a better fate.
Instead, the Barons were on the wrong end of a 3-0 score in Game 4 of the American Hockey League's Western Conference final series at Ricoh Coliseum.
The loss sets up a do-or-die encounter at 6 p.m. Friday in Toronto if the Barons hope to return the series to Oklahoma City for Game 6 on Monday.
“I was down like this last year in the first round in Binghamton,” said Barons forward Ryan Keller, striking a hopeful tone. “We came back to win the Calder Cup.
“They aren't going to want to come back to Oklahoma; we just have to win on Friday to force them to.”
The proceedings started virtually identical to the Barons first road playoff loss two days earlier. Oklahoma City started strong but had little to show for it and eventually fell behind to an efficient and determined Marlies squad.
Unlike the 5-3 loss on Monday night, however, the Barons couldn't claw back even. The third period of Wednesday night's game was a frustrating exercise in trying to break down Toronto's back end after being victimized by some shaky goaltending of their own.
One juicy rebound that lead to Toronto's first goal and another downright awful one saw Barons coach Todd Nelson pull starter Yann Danis and insert David LeNeveu to start the third period. Danis had started 12 previous playoff games going into Wednesday's game. The third period was LeNeveu's first action in the postseason.
“We don't have time to be demoralized, but obviously it's frustrating (to allow just) 16 shots and lose basically 2-0,” said Keller.