Mark Arcobello scored the first playoff hat trick in Barons history Saturday night at the Cox Convention Center.
Then again, maybe he didn't.
Arcobello officially was awarded with three goals, all in the third period, to help the Barons rally for a 5-2 win over Charlotte Saturday night in Game 2 of a first-round series.
The controversy on whether Arcobello actually recorded a hat trick centered around the first of three third-period goals. The pivotal goal that broke a 2-2 tie with 11:16 remaining originally was credited to Jonathan Cheechoo.
“I thought it might have hit (Cheechoo's) shin,” Arcobello said. “I still really don't know ... I'm just glad it went in. Our season was on the line.”
Late in the game, officials announced the goal had been changed to Arcobello, who scored an insurance goal with 2:37 left.
Arcobello added an empty-netter with 1:43 left to seal a win that tied the best-of-five series 1-1.
“I don't care who scored it,” said coach Todd Nelson. “Hopefully this kick starts us and we understand this is the way we have to play.”
The mystery goal was set up by a nice centering pass from defenseman Randy Jones, who had a goal and two assists. Cheechoo and Arcobello both charged the net hard, poking at the puck in the crease.
“I think you can flip a coin,” Jones said. “It doesn't really matter who scored it. The most important thing is a W at the end.”
Having lost Game 1 in a short five-game series, the Barons were down two goals early in Game 2.
Riding the momentum of an overtime win Friday night in the series opener, the Checkers dominated play early.
The Barons had outshot opponents in 15 of their previous 16 games but Charlotte owned a commanding 18-3 edge late in the first period.
More importantly the Checkers led the game 2-0.
“Our guys on the bench got (ticked off),” Nelson said. “It was like, ‘Enough of this.' From that point on we started playing more physical.”
From that point on, the Barons outshot 28-17 and scored the game's final five goals.
Charlotte's first goal by Sean Dolan originally was disallowed for interfering with Oklahoma City goaltender Yann Danis. After officials conferred for more than a minute, the goal stood for a 1-0 Checkers lead midway through the first period.
Less than two minutes later Zach Boychuk scored his second goal of the series on a breakaway. OKC finally regained momentum late in the first period on a Cheechoo goal.
“They came at us pretty hard at the start but (Danis) kept us in it,” Jones said. “But it's a 60-minute game. Just like (Friday) night it was back and forth. We knew if we could get that first one to cut into that (2-0) deficit we'd be right back in it.”
The Barons controlled play much of the second period. They finally tied it on Jones' 40-foot slap shot late in the second period and dominated the third period.
Game 3 is Wednesday night in Charlotte.
“Anytime your backs are to the wall you're going to come out fighting a little harder,” Cheechoo said. “It's too bad we didn't do that from the start. That's what we need to do the next game.”