Yann Danis, the reigning American Hockey League goaltender of the year, will be a key factor in the Oklahoma City Barons' attempt to reach the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
In his first game in net for the Barons in nearly a month, Danis recorded 31 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss to Rochester on Tuesday night at the Cox Convention Center.
“It wasn't because of Yann. He was very good tonight,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “We've always been comfortable with Yann. It's good having him back. It's nice having that experience in the net. I thought this was one of his better games of the season.”
Danis notched a couple of key stops late in regulation that kept the game tied 2-2. He also stopped the Americans' first four shots in the shootout, but took the loss when all five OKC skaters failed to score against Rochester goalie David Leggio.
The 31-year-old veteran didn't play much during two stints with the Edmonton Oilers but recorded his 17th career NHL win, playing the final two periods of the Oilers' 6-5 win two weeks ago against Chicago. It was only the Blackhawks' second regulation loss this season.
“I felt good tonight right from the start,” Danis said. “It was nice to start a game. It's nice to get back into it. We have a couple of games coming up this weekend. Hopefully I can get back in a groove and get things going.”
It was Danis' first start since Feb. 26. During two stints with Edmonton, Danis filled in as the backup for Devan Dubynk. Danis appeared in only two games. He never started a game.
Danis is 16-13-4 this season with the Barons but has made only four starts since Jan. 13.
“The last couple of months have been tough, going up and down,” Danis said. “You go through stretches where you're really not playing. It's an adjustment going up, but it's also an adjustment coming back down. It's not that things don't happen quickly here, but it is a little bit different.
“This definitely was one of my best games in a while. Hopefully I can build on this and get something going for the (playoff) push.”
The Barons took a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Curtis Hamilton scored less than a minute into the game. Anton Lander, returning from a broken foot that sidelined him for six weeks, scored on a two-on-one pass from Toni Rajala.
The Americans scored midway through the second period and tied it early in the third period.
“It was a playoff-style game,” Nelson said. “Both goalies played well down the stretch. The most disappointing thing was we had the game on our stick multiple times. We had a great play in overtime and three power plays in the third. And our goalie stopped four out of five shots in the shootout.”
Rochester fired 25 shots at Danis in the second and third periods, but OKC dominated the overtime period, outshooting the Americans 6-1, including a couple of good scoring chances.
“The guys we rely on in those situations had an off night,” Nelson said. “That happens. Getting a point out of it was a good thing but I would have liked to have gotten two. And it was right there for us.”