The Oklahoma City Barons have won only two of 10 games since the Oilers' young stars returned to Edmonton after the NHL lockout ended.
But a 2-1 loss to the Charlotte Checkers on Thursday night at the Cox Convention Center was an example that it's not as if the Barons have been overmatched since Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz and Co. left town.
Oklahoma City goaltender Olivier Roy played one his best games with the Barons, but Charlotte escaped with an American Hockey League win when Bobby Raymond scored the game-winner with 20.7 seconds left in the game.
“We played well enough to win tonight. That's the bottom line,” said Oklahoma City coach Todd Nelson. “But right now it's not good enough.”
Veteran defenseman Brett Clark was whistled for tripping with 1:37 to play. The Barons were close to forcing overtime before Jeremy Welsh's crossing pass set up Raymond for an easy backdoor goal in the waning seconds. Welsh also scored Charlotte's first goal, in the first period.
“It's one of those games that hurt the most when you know you deserve a better ending than that,” said Roy.
What made the loss more frustrating was Antti Tyrvainen had an excellent scoring opportunity with five minutes left but fired a shot into Charlotte goalie Justin Peters' chest.
“The game was there for us to win,” Nelson said. “We had a breakaway opportunity that we didn't bury and they score on a power play at the end. Tonight was one of those games we found a way to lose.”
The difference was special teams. Both Charlotte goals were on the power play. OKC was 0-of-5 with the man advantage.
“Our power play was horrendous,” Nelson said. “That's one thing we have to address. And we gave up two power play goals. Our special teams stunk tonight. We played well when it was five-on-five.”