Second-period goals from Ryan Keller and Tyler Pitlick propelled the top-seeded Oklahoma City Barons to a 4-1 victory and a commanding 2-0 series lead over the No. 8 seed Houston Aeros at the Toyota Center Friday.
With Houston and Oklahoma City scoreless with less than a minute remaining in the first period the teams appeared to be headed for a scoreless opening 20 minutes. Keller had other ideas, however.
Keller fired a shot from the top of the circle that trickled through the legs of Aeros netminder Matt Hackett to give the Barons a 1-0 lead. Defensemen Dylan Yeo and Bryan Rodney were credited with assists.
Oklahoma City outshot Houston 18-8 in the first period.Just as in game one, the second period was very profitable for Oklahoma City. Keller picked up where he left off in the first period. Marc Arcobello fired a pass from behind the net to Keller who beat Hackett. The power-play goal was the second in as many games for the Barons. Hackett was replaced by Mike Brodeur after the goal.
Pitlick pushed the Barons advantage to 3-0 with a steep-angle shot from near the boards at 14:15 of the second. Rodney picked up his second assist of the night on the play.
Cody Almond scored the first goal of the series for Houston at 3:48 of the third which ignited a quick Houston flurry that included a power-play chance.
The goal snapped Barons netminder Yann Danis‘ consecutive shutout streak at 103 minutes 48 seconds.
But Hunter Tremblay put the game away with a shorthanded goal at 13:17 of the final period. Tremblay specialized in shorthanded goals during the regular season, tying for the league lead with five goals during opponents power plays.
Including the regular season, the Barons and Danis improved to 9-0-1 against the Aeros on the season.
Danis stopped 19 of 20 shots he faced while Brodeur and Hackett combined to stop 33 of 37 for Houston.
The Barons will attempt to close out the series Sunday in Oklahoma City. Faceoff is set for 8:00 ET at the Cox Convention Center (AHL Live).