Roadrunners’ late goal upends Barracuda 4-2 in Game 1 of AHL playoffs

April 19, 2018

AHL, San Jose Barracuda

Photo credit: @sjbarracuda

By Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE — A heartbreaking ending wasn’t what the San Jose Barracuda (0-1) deserved on a night where they were the more aggressive team, yet that was their fate as the Tuscon Roadrunners (1-0) received the game-winning goal from Lane Pederson late in the third period to defeat San Jose 4-2 in Game 1 of the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs on Thursday evening at the SAP Center.

Michael Bunting came into the left slot and fed a pass over to Pederson, who was able snap home a shot between the five-hole of Cuda goalie Antoine Bibeau (0-1) with just 1:15 to play in the third period.

San Jose would control the first 10 minutes of the first period as they had quality scoring chances from captain John McCarthy on a wraparound attempt and Alexander True’s point blank chance from the right face off circle, both stymied by Roadrunners goalie Adin Hill (1-0).

“You can’t be disappointed in the effort,” said head coach Roy Sommer. “We had 14 grade A’s (scoring chances) in the second (period). I’m disappointed in the loss, but there was a lot more good than bad in that game.”

Tuscon would be the one to draw first blood at the 11:04 mark of the first period. Dakota Memis took a cross-ice feed from Carter Camper on an odd-man rush. Memis skated in from the right slot and snapped home a shot top-shelf past Bibeau for a 1-0 lead.

The Cuda had a chance early on in the second period to tie up the game when they had a 4-on-3 power play opportunity. Hill was under siege from a barrage of shot attempts by San Jose, but survived it, thanks to a combination of blocked shots by his penalty kill and some good glove work by the Tuscon netminder.

True continued to stay red hot for the Cuda. With Camper in the sin bin for tripping, Tim Heed fired a shot from the point that deflected off Hill onto the stick of a crashing True and he poked home the rebound past Hill for a power play goal at the 9:33 mark of the second period. It was True’s third goal in the past two games. Helewka received the secondary assist.

“Good play by Helewka on the half wall getting the puck off to Heeder (Tim Heed),” said True about his first goal in the playoffs. “I saw that he had a good lane and he made a perfect shot. The rebound just happened to land on my stick, a pretty easy tap in.”

The Roadrunners needed only 23 seconds to regain the lead. Joel Hanley fed Ryan MacInnis a pass in the neutral zone. MacInnis drove the down the right side of the boards and skated into the middle of the crease, where he slid a backhander past Bibeau at the 9:56 mark.

Despite outshooting the Roadrunners 22-6 and outchancing them in the second period, San Jose would head into the second intermission down by a goal.

“It’s a little frustrating because I think we played a complete game,” said McCarthy. “They (Tuscon) buried their chances and we had a lot of chances we didn’t bury. That’s something we gotta look to going forward (for game two). But as far as the compete level and being positionally sound, I thought we did a good job.”

The Cuda would get the equalizer when Heed sent in a shot on goal that rebounded back out to the end of the right faceoff circle. Helewka spun around and fired it back toward the net where it hit off Sasha Chmelevski’s chest into the net for the tying goal at the 5:16 mark of the third period. It was Helewka’s second assist on the night.

“It just hit me in the chest,” said Chmelevski. “When you go hard to the net, sometimes you get those fortunate bounces. It was obviously a huge goal (at the time), but unfortunately we couldn’t get the win today.”

Dylan Strome completed the scoring with an empty-net goal with 13 seconds left in the game.

Hill, who was the best player for the Roadrunners, made 36 saves on 38 shots for the victory. Bibeau made 20 saves on 23 shots in suffering the tough luck loss.

“I think we definitely have confidence going into the next game, knowing that we can definitely dominate the game,” said Chmelevski.

GAME NOTES: San Jose went 1/4 on the power play. Tuscon was 0/2.

McCarthy re-signed a one-year extension deal with the Barracuda before the game.

Rourke Chartier suffered an upper-body injury when he was high-sticked in the face with under two minutes remaining in the second period.

San Jose was 5-2-0-1 against Tuscon during the regular season.

UP NEXT: The Barracuda look to earn a split in the series in Game 2 of the first Round of the Calder Cup Playoffs on Saturday, April 21 at 7 pm PT at SAP Center.

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