The Oklahoma City Barons scored three first period goals en route to a 4-1 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins Wednesday evening at the Cox Convention Center. Oklahoma City leads the best-of-seven AHL Western Conference final series 2-1.
Oklahoma City nearly scored at the 3:20 mark of the first period but Chris VandeVelde's goal was waived off for high sticking. Ben Eager opened the scoring 7:14 into the game on a breakaway following a turnover. Andrew Hotham earned the assist on the long pass that resulted in a rifled slapshot past Griffins goaltender Petr Mrazek.
Just 1:11 later, Josh Green made it 2-0 as he knocked down a Grand Rapids pass from behind the net in the Barons offensive end and put the puck in from close range at 8:25. Following the two goals, the Griffins called their only timeout of the game.
Late in the period, Philippe Cornet broke away from the boards and put home a centering pass from Brandon Davidson to give the Barons a 3-0 lead at 16:35. Oklahoma City scored the three goals on nine shots in the first period, and the Griffins had six shots on goal.
Neither team got on the board in the second, but Oklahoma City added to the shot total, out-shooting the Griffins 11-6 in the period.
The Barons had chances in the third period, putting 13 shots on goal but the Griffins cut the lead to two at 15:06 as Chad Billins broke the shutout with his second goal of the playoffs. Grand Rapids pulled Mrzek with three minutes remaining in the game, and Jonathan Cheechoo added the empty-net goal at 18:43 to secure the 4-1 win.
Barons goaltender Yann Danis was fantastic in goal again, turning away 20 of the 21 shots he faced.
The best-of-seven series continues this weekend with game four Friday and game five Saturday. Start times for both contests is 7 p.m. CT.