The Barons have tightened up their defense. Now they've got to figure out a way to score some goals without the Oilers young stars who have returned to Edmonton.
For the second straight game the Barons on Sunday afternoon controlled play but left the Cox Convention Center frustrated, losing 3-0 to the Texas Stars in an American Hockey League game.
Similar to Saturday night's game against Charlotte, Oklahoma City outshot the Stars 36-16. The Barons had more scoring chances but never got the puck past Texas goaltender Jack Campbell.
“We're seeing a lot of positive things that aren't translating into wins,” said Oklahoma City coach Todd Nelson. “We just have to keep working at it. I liked their effort. We had good scoring opportunities. We just couldn't bury it. Give Campbell credit. He played a strong game.”
Campbell is taking over for Cristopher Nilstorp who joined Dallas' training camp. Nilstorp had four shutouts. This was Campbell's first shutout of the season.
“We've got to do a better job of shooting at the corners (of the net),” said Barons captain Josh Green. “He saw a lot of the shots. We hit him in the chest a lot. We just have to stay with it. We can't get frustrated.”
Green narrowly missed slamming home a rebound in the final minutes — and that was representative of the Barons inability to light the lamp.
“It was kind of indicative of the night,” Green said. “But we've got to battle through those kinds of things.”
Matt Fraser scored a power-play goal midway through the first period to give the Stars a 1-0 lead. The Barons had ample scoring chances over the next two periods before a turnover helped Texas take a 2-0 lead with 16:41 left. The Stars added an empty-net goal after Barons goaltender Olivier Roy was pulled for an extra attacker.
“It was one of those games I felt if we popped in a goal I thought for sure that we'd take control,” Nelson said. “In fact, I thought we took control of the game. We just couldn't score.”
Mark Arcobello, the Barons leading scorer after four young Oilers stars returned to Edmonton, fired nine shots at Campbell.
“Their goalie played well,” Arcobello said. “We hit a couple of posts. It comes down to bearing down in the scoring areas and getting the job done.”
After outshooting Charlotte 35-15 in regulation in an overtime loss Saturday night, the Barons allowed only 16 shots on Sunday.
“When you only give up 15 shots a game that's pretty good hockey,” Nelson said. “I'm happy with that. And we had 72 shots the past couple of nights. Good things will happen if we keep working that way. Right now, we're kind of struggling a bit.”
The Barons are 0-3-1 since the Oilers' four young stars — Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — returned to Edmonton. Four more players, including forward Teemu Hartikainen, left Sunday for the Oilers training camp. At least two players will return to OKC when the NHL season begins next week.
The Oilers' season begins Sunday vs. Vancouver.
“Let's see what happens the next few days as far as who we get back from Edmonton,” Green said. “But this is going to be our team moving forward. We need to find a way to start clicking and move up the standings.”