By Jim Byers, on 12/27/2011

Rochester Americans (13-12-4-1) at Oklahoma City Barons (21-7-0-2)
Barons Game 31  |  Home Game 15 |  AHL Game 453
Dec. 27, 2011, 7 pm CST  | Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Broadcast: KXY 96.1 FM

TONIGHT: The Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres) visit OKC for the first time. The teams did not meet last season despite both being in the Western Conference. Tonight is the first of back-to-back games at the Cox Center. They’ll also meet in consecutive games at Rochester Jan. 19-20 to conclude the four-game season series. Rochester is second in the North Division of the Western Conference with 31 points, five back of Toronto. The Barons have the league’s best record by wins, points and point percentage and lead the West by one point, 44-43 over Houston.

OFF THE TOP: The Barons have allowed the fewest goals in the league (68) and their per-game average of 2.27 goals allowed is No. 1 in the AHL. Edmonton recalled defenseman Alex Plante yesterday and reassigned center Milan Kytnar to ECHL Stockton. OKC’s home penalty killing percentage is tops in the league at 91.9, as opponents have scored 5 power play goals in 62 times short.

OKC is atop the West Division with 44 points, 21 wins and a .733 standing point percentage, all highs in the league. The Barons are the only AHL team with a point percentage above .700. The West Division has the AHL’s top three teams by points, as Houston is second with 43 and Abbotsford third with 42.

The Barons have played 30 games this season and a league-high 20 have been decided by one goal. OKC is 13-5-0-2 in one-goal games. The Barons have played five straight one-goal contests, going 3-1-0-1 in that time. OKC has played 13 straight decided by one goal or one plus an empty-net tally, going 9-3-0-1 in those games. Twenty of OKC’s last 21 games, spanning all of November and December, have ended with a one-goal final or one plus an empty-netter.

DANIS RETURNS, ROY GOES WEST: The Barons were without goaltender Yann Danis during their two-game trip to Charlotte before the Christmas break. Danis stayed home for the birth of his son, Ryder Isaac Danis, born Dec. 21 weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces. Rookie goalie Olivier Roy was assigned to the Barons from ECHL Stockton, but did not play and returned to Stockton on Dec. 21.

KNOCKING THE RUST OFF: Several Barons have missed substantial time lately, primarily from injuries. Josh Green has missed the past five games, four because of suspension and most recently Dec. 20 at Charlotte because of illness. Philippe Cornet has missed five straight dating to a collision in front of the benches Dec. 9 vs. Peoria. Teemu Hartikainen sustained an upper body injury at Rockford Nov. 26 and has missed the last 10 games. Andrew Lord has missed the entire season after sustaining a pre-season injury. Linus Omark has been unavailable the past 14 after incurring a lower body injury at Rockford Nov. 16.

NETMINDING: David LeNeveu’s 2.07 goals-against average is fourth in the league behind Lake Erie’s Cedrick Desjardins (1.61), Worcester’s Tyson Sexsmith (1.85) and Manchester’s Jeff Zatkoff (2.05). LeNeveu and teammate Yann Danis are tied for fourth in save percentage at .927. Danis is fifth in GAA at 2.20, third in wins with 13 and second in shootout percentage at .929, having stopped 13 of 14 shootout attempts.

Despite missing the last five games with an injury, Philippe Cornet is tied for fourth in the AHL in goals with 15. The leader, Norfolk’s Cory Conacher, has 18.  Cornet and Ryan Keller are part of a group tied for second in the AHL with four game-winning goals. Cornet remains No. 1 in shooting percentage at 34.9. Hunter Tremblay tops the league with three shorthanded goals.

Last 5 games:
Date      Opp.       Result     OKC Goalie (GA,SV)   Opp. Goalie             Attn.
Dec. 10  @ Tex      W, 3-2       Danis (2, 27)                   Beskorowany (3, 16)  4,878
Dec. 13  Texas       L, 2-3        LeNeveu (L)/Danis          Beskorowany (2, 18)  2,393
Dec. 17  Houston   SOW, 3-2  Danis (2, 24)                   Kuemper (2, 22)         4,425
Dec. 18  @ Cha     SOL, 2-3   LeNeveu (2, 38)             Murphy (2, 21)           4,912
Dec. 20  @ Cha     OTW, 4-3  LeNeveu (3, 24)             Murphy (4, 22)           5,220

Next 5 games (all times Central):
Date      Opp.            Site                                Time   Broadcast
Dec. 28  Rochester     Cox Center                      7:00     1340 The Game
Dec. 31  San Antonio Cox Center                      7:00     KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 1     @ Houston   Toyota Center                 5:05     KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 4     @ Lake Erie Quicken Loans Arena     6:00     1340 The Game
Jan. 6     @ Toronto    Ricoh Coliseum               6:00     KXY 96.1 FM

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