The Hamilton Bulldogs and the Oklahoma City Barons are now tied at two all after the Barons beat up the Bulldogs 5-2 on Wednesday night at the Cox Convention Center. It is now a best of three series and will require at least two meetings between these two clubs. The ‘Dogs have been beyond perfect in their penalty kill through three games and up until the late seconds of the second period, neutralizing all 16 power plays but unfortunately the game-winning-goal was scored on the man advantage and it was the only power play goal the Barons have scored after four games. Drew MacIntyre had his worst outing of the series as the Barons found a way to solve the hot goalie scoring 4 goals on him on 27 shots. Martin Gerber made 29 saves for his second consecutive victory.
One Bulldog was out for game 4, Aaron Palushaj, with an undisclosed injury. It only took the Barons three minutes to get the first goal. The goal came after the three Bulldogs couldn’t handle the puck along the end boards. Ian Schultz who was replacing Palushaj got the opportunity to play on the top line and paid some dividends. Ian got the ‘Dogs on the mark after Gerber couldn’t stop a Nigel Dawes wrist shot hitting the post and onto Schultz’s stick. Contribution from the fourth line is always welcomed especially during the playoffs where every goal counts. The ‘Dogs 4th line of Avtsin-Bonneau-Zanette were the only Bulldogs in the plus column after Zanette scored to tie the game at 2-2.
With 30 seconds remaining in the second period the Barons scored their first power play goal by Mark Arcobello. Only down by one the Bulldogs were within reach to tie the game but with two early penalties called on them early in the final period it sucked all the energy but most importantly the time in the offensive zone. The Barons scored an insurance goal 11:26 of the period and played strictly defense the rest of the way.
The ‘Dogs couldn’t grab onto a lead for the second straight game and will need to change that if they don’t want to face elimination at the Dog Pound on Sunday. It happened nine times in which the ‘Dogs blew a 2-0 lead but only lost a 7-game series once. The last time the ‘Dogs blew a 2-0 lead they were eliminated from reaching the Calder Cup Final. Yes, it was just last year against the Texas Stars which it is still fresh on their minds. Hopefully the ‘Dogs can remember that pain and play the way they did in the first two games of this series.
The two clubs will have a day off before playing a pivotal point in this series on Friday at 8:05 p.m EST once again at the Cox Convention Center.