By Josh Evans, OKC Barons on 05/25/2013

The Oklahoma City Barons evened their Western Conference Finals series at a game each with the Grand Rapids Griffins with a 4-2 win Saturday night in Grand Rapids. Teemu Hartikainen had two goals, while linemate Toni Rajala added two assists.

Oklahoma City did nearly everything they wanted to do in the first period…except score. The Barons made a concerted effort to get in front of Peter Mrazek and it paid off with a dozen shots on goal, along with several scoring chances.

However, it was Grand Rapids that would strike first. Tomas Tatar made his way into the offensive zone and fired a shot from the right-wing faceoff circle just under the right pad of Barons netminder Yann Danis.

The Barons outshot the Griffins 12-6 through the first period to play. Oklahoma City held the Griffins without a shot until nearly nine minutes into the game.

The first power-play opportunity of the game was awarded to the Barons and they wasted no time in cashing in with the man advantage. A faceoff win by C.J. Stretch was sent to the left point to Toni Rajala who quickly whipped it to Josh Green. Green’s point shot made its way through a maze of traffic in front of Mrazek to Stretch who was positioned just to the goaltender’s right. The goal for Stretch is his fifth of the playoffs.

Oklahoma City would take their first lead of the series just over a minute into the first period. Toni Rajala picked up his second assist on the night when he zipped a cross-ice pass to Teemu Hartikainen in the right-wing faceoff circle. Teemu one-timed the puck past Mrazek.

The lead lasted less than two minutes as Mitch Callahan split the Barons defense and walked in alone on Danis at 2:58 of the third.

Oklahoma City would score what proved to be the game winner at 7:45 on Mark Arcobello’s league-leading 10th goal of the playoffs. A steep-angle Philippe Cornet shot rebounded in front of Mrazek and Arcobello swatted at it. The puck bounded up in the air and eventually behind the Griffins’ netminder. 

Grand Rapids pulled Mrazek with over a minute to play, but were unable to muster a shot on goal. 

Hartikainen scored his second of the night into an empty net with under 30 seconds to play to seal the win for the Barons.

The Barons defense stood tall in the third period, not allowing a Griffins shot on goal in the final five minutes of the game. Oklahoma City outshot the Griffins 37-22. That marks the first time during the postseason the Griffins have been outshot in a game.

The series now shifts to Oklahoma City for Games 3, 4 and 5. Game 3 is Wednesday, May 29, while Game 4 is Friday, May 31. Should the series require a Game 5, it would be Saturday, June 1.  All three games in Oklahoma City will be played at the Cox Convention Center at 7 p.m. (ct).

For Game 3, ANY person that brings a legitimate donation to the United Way OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund can enjoy the Barons game for FREE. 
Each Barons home game next week has a specially designed t-shirt associated with it. Fans can receive a t-shirt by attending a game and making a donation of $10-or-more to the OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund. All gross proceeds collected for the t-shirts over the three games will benefit the OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund. Each t-shirt design compliments the Oklahoma Standard for communities banding together in times of need.

NOTE: There will be no Barons Weekly Show at Buffalo Wild Wings on Monday, May 27.

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