Matthew Ford and Taylor Fedun scored late goals for the Oklahoma City Barons to tie the game 2-2, but the Charlotte Checkers prevailed in a six-round shootout to win the first of a two-game set 3-2 at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday night.
The Barons, 30-27-2-8, pick up a standing point to tie Rochester for ninth in the Western Conference with 70 points, three behind Charlotte (35-30-1-2), which occupies the eighth and final playoff spot.
The teams meet Sunday at 12:30 pm (CDT) and again April 5-6 at the Cox Convention Center. Charlotte has won seven of nine against Oklahoma City this season.
After a scoreless first period, the Checkers tallied the only goal of the second as former Baron Matt Marquardt found a loose puck in the right-wing circle, worked for shooting room and wristed one high past Richard Bachman's stick side at 3:09.
The Checkers took a 2-0 lead two minutes into the third period when Victor Rask put home a rebound off the end boards.
The Barons killed off a penalty just past the half-way mark of the third and rallied down the stretch to tie the game late. Oklahoma City went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and 1-for-4 on the power play while out-shooting Charlotte 34-33.
Ford shaved the deficit to 2-1 with a tip of a Fedun shot on the man advantage at 17:21. Andrew Miller earned the second assist. Ford has a goal in a franchise-record five straight games. The Barons tied the score off a Will Acton faceoff win with 5.1 seconds left in regulation. Acton pulled the puck to Fedun, who fired a shot through a screen past John Muse.
Muse improved to 25-12-0, while Bachman fell to 21-17-5. The Barons are 1-8 in shootouts, while Charlotte is 3-2.
In the shootout, Alex Lavoie scored for the Barons in the bottom of the third round. Justin Shugg followed in the top of the fourth to tie it 1-1. Still knotted after the scheduled five rounds, it went one extra before Marquardt put one past Bachman's stick side for the win.