Photo credit: @TheAHL
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE–Playing the back end of a back-to-back against the team with the most points in the Pacific Division is not an easy task. However, the San Jose Barracuda (13-11-0-2) rebounded from a tough shootout loss last night on the road and ended up downing the Texas Stars (17-11-1-1) 3-1 at SAP Center on Friday night.
Cuda captain John McCarthy got the Cuda on the board with his fifth goal of the season on the power play at 9:12 of the first period. The power play goal set off a flurry of stuffed teddy bears being thrown from the rafters on to the ice with it being Teddy Bear Toss Night at the Tank.
Forward Danny O’Reagan, who was reassigned back down yesterday, threw a shot at the net that hit off Stars goalie Landon Bow (11-6-1) and rebounded to McCarthy. He was able to knock in his second attempt past Bow for a 1-0 lead.
San Jose’s Brandon Bollig didn’t need to wait for Santa on the 25th, as the Stars gave him an early Christmas present in the second period when defenseman Dillon Heatherington skated out in front of his own net and tripped over his teammate Brian Flynn’s skate leaving the puck all alone for Bollig to tap it past Bow for an unassisted goal, his sixth of the season.
“What’s the old saying? The harder you work, the luckier you are,” said head coach Roy Sommer. “I thought we deserved the game. We’re winning ugly, but we’re still winning.”
The Stars were lifeless in the second period without having a shot on net more than half way through the period, thanks to the Cuda maintaining puck possession. They came on strong late in the period when Brian Flynn scored his eighth goal of the season, thanks to a pretty pass from Curtis McKenzie behind the Cuda net that found a wide open Flynn at the top of the slot who buried the shot past Antoine Bibeau (8-6-0) at the 17:55 mark. Texas ended up outshooting San Jose 13-9 in the second period.
The Stars carried that momentum into the third period as Bibeau made two nice saves in the first two minutes of the third period. Texas controlled the play of the game for the first 10 minutes until San Jose clamped back down on defense not allowing another goal.
The Stars were also victims of some bad luck as they hit two posts in the third period. Denis Gurianov hit the post after 2-on-1 opportunity created by McKenzie five minutes left in the game. Flynn hit the crossbar earlier in the period that beat Bibeau.
The Barracuda has chances to put the game away twice when Brandon Masinter had a golden opportunity to score at the 11-minute mark when he drove to the net, made a deke on Bow, but his backhander attempt was stoned by Bow as he sprawled out reaching back behind him to grab the puck. Rudolfs Balcers’ breakaway attempt was stopped by Bow with four minutes remaining in the game
Brandon Mashinter finally iced the game with an empty net goal, his sixth of the season, at 19:07 when Manny Wiederer found him all alone at the Stars’ blue line and Mashinter was able to skate all the way in before depositing it into the net.
Bibeau, who played strong from the beginning to the end, finished the night with 29 saves on 30 shots for his eighth win of the season. Bow took the loss on 26 saves on 28 shots.
“Beebs (Bibeau) bailed us out,” said McCarthy. “He’s come in and played hard and he’s playing well. He won the game for us tonight I would say.”
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1-for-2 on the power play while Texas was 0-for-3. There were no penalties in the third period. The game drew 4,158 in attendance on the third annual Teddy Bear Toss Night.
UP NEXT: The Christmas break is upon for the Barracuda. They don’t return to action until next Thursday 12/28 when they host the Stockton Heat at 1:15pm at the SAP Center.