Barons general manager Bill Scott signed former NHL All-Star Jonathan Cheechoo after four Oilers stars returned to Edmonton when the lockout ended.
Cheechoo tied the club record with five points Friday night in Oklahoma City's 7-3 win over Charlotte in front of 3,455 fans at the Cox Convention Center.
“We were just waiting to see when Jonathan was going to break out. Tonight was the night,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “Just like when Jordan (Eberle), Taylor (Hall) and Nuge (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) were here, it took a few games for him to get used to the style of play. And Cheech hadn't played all year.”
Cheechoo has scored 170 NHL goals, including a league-leading 56 seven years ago with the San Jose Sharks. The 32-year-old right winger from Moose Factory, Ontario, has spent the past two seasons in the AHL.
“I knew they lost some guys here,” Cheechoo said. “This is a great opportunity. They have a great coach who gives us some freedom and lets us use our creativity.”
Oklahoma City's top forward line produced five goals. Mark Arcobello scored his 13th and 14th goals and had two assists. Philippe Cornet also scored two goals and added two assists.
Arcobello's first goal late in the first period tied the game 2-2. Cornet followed with a power-play goal to give OKC a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
“We got a few practices under our belt as a line,” Cheechoo said. “We're starting to feel a little more comfortable.”
The Barons have been hard pressed to produce consistent scoring since the “Fab Four” returned to Edmonton.
Scoring wasn't a problem Friday night. The Barons fired 37 shots at Charlotte's two goaltenders and led 6-2 midway through the second period.
“It's amazing how that works,” Nelson said. “Last night (a 2-1 loss to Charlotte), we had a hard time scoring. Tonight, they came in bundles. It was nice to get those two power play goals (for a 4-2 lead). That was the turning point in the game.”
Cornet, an AHL All-Star last season, has spent half the season with Stockton in the Double-A ECHL. After scoring 24 goals for OKC last season, Cornet's two goals Friday night were his third and fourth of the season.
“I played a lot more in Stockton than I would have played here. It did me some good,” Cornet said. “It's good to be back here with the guys. I just want to play my best every night and help us win.”
Cornet's first goal came on a breakaway off a turnover to tie the game 1-1 midway through the first period. His second goal, a tip-in power-play goal, gave OKC a 3-2 lead late in the first period.
Cheechoo scored a power-play goal early in the second period. Toni Rajala, an ECHL All-Star, scored his fifth goal in his 15th games with the Barons. Chris VandeVelde scored 52 seconds later to produce a 6-2 lead.
“We had things going all night long,” Cheechoo said. “We wanted to keep that rolling. We didn't want to fall into the trap of slipping back when you get a little bit of a lead. We wanted to keep the pressure on them.”