The Barons experienced firsthand why the Rockford IceHogs are the hottest team in the American Hockey League.
The night after Rockford scored with two seconds left to rally for a shootout win, the IceHogs scored six consecutive goals to rally for 7-4 American Hockey League victory Saturday night in front of 4,411 fans at the Cox Convention Center.
Winning eight of its last nine games, Rockford trailed 4-1 early in the second period but scored the final six goals. The IceHogs scored three goals in the second period and four in the third.
“Sometimes it comes down to playing to win and not playing not to lose,” said Oklahoma City coach Todd Nelson. “If you play to win, you go after it. If you play not to lose, bad things happen.”
Jimmy Hayes had a hat trick and scored five points to spark the IceHogs' rally. Jermy Morin added two goals and an assist.
It was Rockford's AHL-best eighth third-period come-from-behind win.
“Obviously, they're a hot team, but we had the lead in both games and couldn't hold on,” said forward Chris VandeVelde, who recently returned to OKC after playing 11 games with Edmonton. “We have to mature as a team and figure that out.”
Goaltender Niko Hovinen allowed six goals, but Nelson and some teammates credited Hovinen for making some remarkable saves that allowed OKC to lead 4-1.
“I thought Niko played a good game the first half,” Nelson said. “Eventually it's going to catch up to you. The turning point was two turnovers in our zone that gave them life. From there on they capitalized on opportunities.”
Unlike Friday's game when OKC was outshot 38-15, the IceHogs owned only a 36-31 edge in shots on goal. But like Friday's game, Rockford dominated the third period, outshooting the Barons 12-3.
The IceHogs' offensive explosion overshadowed a solid game from OKC left winger Philippe Cornet, who scored two goals and added an assist.
A starter in the AHL All-Star game last year, Cornet started this season with Stockton in the ECHL when some of the Edmonton Oilers young stars opened the season in Oklahoma City. He has spent the past two months in OKC.
“It wasn't easy going down to Stockton, something I didn't anticipate doing,” Cornet said. “I need to take responsibility up here and help us find a way to win.”
Cornet's ninth Barons goal of the season gave OKC a 1-0 lead a little more than a minute into the game. Cornet's second goal, set up by Brett Clark's pass, made it 2-0.
Team captain Josh Green gave OKC a 3-0 cushion midway through the first period. Mark Arcobello's 18th goal of the season, his 50th point, made it 4-1 but the IceHogs steamrolled the Barons the final 30 minutes.
“This is unacceptable,” Cornet said. “We have to find a way to keep those type of games out of reach. It doesn't matter how good they're playing. It comes down to the way we play. We can't let teams hang around and steal two wins in our home building.”