By Matthew T.F. Harrington
SAN JOSE, Calif. – A wild second period pushed the San Jose Barracuda past the Texas Stars Saturday afternoon at the SAP Center. Barracuda forward Nikolai Goldobin scored two of four Barracuda goals in the frame and Ryan Carpenter, John McCarthy and Nikitia Jevpalovs all had a pair of assists to help the Barracuda overcome a 3-1 lead and win 5-4.
“He could have had four or five tonight,” said Barracuda coach Roy Sommer on his star wing’s performance.
“It’s nice to score two goals,” added Goldobin. “I hoped I could score a hat trick. I had a couple chances.”
Julius Bergman answered a late Stars goal with a score of his own in the final minute to give San Jose (7-7-0-3) a win in its first game back after 7-game road trip that saw the Barracuda go 3-2-0-2 and pick up 8 points.
“I think it’s a good sign that our team didn’t fold after they scored with two minutes left,” said McCarthy. “We dug deep and got that last one. That’s a good sign for us.”
Texas (11-8-0-1) landed the first and only strike of the first period on Matej Stransky’s 5th goal of the season with 8:24 left in the opening period, then built a two goal lead on Devin Shore’s Western Conference-leading 14th goal of the season just under 5 minutes into the 2nd.
Barracuda defenseman Joakim Ryan scored his first career professional goal on a point blast past Stars netminder Maxime Lagace at the 9:38 mark of the period, but Texas answered back with a Shore’s second goal of the period just two and a half minutes later to make it 3-1 visitors. Shore took a near end-to-end rush and ripped a backhander around Troy Grosenick to reestablish a two-goal advantage on the power play.
“We talked about it, we didn’t want to get into a footrace with that team,” said Sommer. “They’re one of the highest scoring teams in the league, we’re not. I don’t think very often you come out ahead on those kinds of games.”
While the early going of the 2nd was all Shore and the Stars, Goldobin took over late. The San Jose Sharks 2014 first-round draft pick showed glimmers of his potential as a pure NHL goal scorer, ripping a wrist shot from Lagace’s left hand faceoff circle that beat the Stars goalie on the far post clean with 5:50 left in the second.
“The skill has been there the whole time,” said McCarthy. “It was on display tonight. That’s the biggest thing for him, playing on both sides of the rink. He’s getting there.”
After Shore was sent to the box for delay of game, Goldobin again found the back of the net on a play that displayed his offensive arsenal. Nikita Jevpalovs fired the initial shot that bounced of Lagace’s pads and into a crowd in the crease. From there, alternate captain John McCarthy was able to scoop the puck out of his skates and nudge it to a waiting Goldobin behind the net. Goldobin wrapped the puck around the net for his second of the night and fourth of the season. The Russian’s tally tied the game 2:30 from the second intermission.
“You don’t want to take away his creativity,” said Sommer on what the expectations are from his star winger following a demotion from the Sharks to work on his defensive game. “He’s going to try things other guys won’t. When you try things other guys won’t you’re going to turn pucks over. If you told Joe Thornton to not try to pass through sticks, you’re not going to get much from him. He’s one of those guys that you have to let play and not put too many restrictions on him.”
“I think I just need to score goals and coach will be happy,” said Goldobin. “If I’m going to play in their zone, I don’t have to play defense in their zone.”
Barclay Goodrow gave fans of the parent club confidence, scoring his 4th goal of the season to take the lead with just 10 seconds left in the six-goal second. Petter Emanuelsson wasn’t able to muster the full-strength shot, but his whiff slid right to Goodrow on the far post for the easy tap-in for the goal.
“That was the backbreaker,” said Sommer. “Scoring with ten seconds left. More power to him.”
San Jose appeared poised for the victory in the third period after heading to the 5-on-3 man advantage, but game up empty on both go-arounds. Texas managed to make San Jose pay, finding the back of the net with just under two minutes to play. Esa Lindell picked the puck out of a scrum and lifted a backhander over a prone Grosenick to tie the game.
The resiliency of the Barracuda won out though, with Julius Bergman scoring the game-winner exactly one minute later on a point shot that deflected off a Stars defender.
“We weren’t getting any production on the back end,” said Sommer on Ryan and Bergman both contributing on the blue line. “So I thought it was really good to see.”
McCarthy and Jevpalovs assisted on Bergman’s first career AHL goal.
“It’s not usually three guys you get working together,” said Sommer on the chemistry Jevpalovs, McCarthy and Goldobin have shown over the past three games since forming a line. “It’s usually two guys and an outsider but that line seems to be going well together.”
The Barracuda continue the second game of a two-game set against the Stars tomorrow at SAP looking for the top line to continue to contribute at the pace it is. After that, they’ll continue the five-game homestand with contests against Stockton, Bakersfield and San Diego.