Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
The Tuscon Roadrunners (2-1) flexed their muscles early and often against the San Jose Barracuda (1-2) as six different goal scorers combined for a dominating 6-0 shutout victory in Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series on Wednesday night at Tuscon Convention Center Arena.
The Pacific Division Champion would dominate from the drop of the puck and drew first blood early in the first period. Dylan Strome created a turnover inside the Cuda zone. He passed it over to Michael Bunting, the team co-leader in goals during the regular season with 23, in the low slot and he fired the puck past Antoine Bibeau (1-2) at the 2:27 mark.
San Jose dodged a bullet at the midway mark of the first period when a goal by defenseman Kyle Capobianco was disallowed after Bunting was called for goaltender interference. Bunting collided with Bibeau before he was able to center a pass to Capobianco who wristed a shot into the back of the net.
The Roadrunners would increase their lead 2-0 with Alex True in the sin bin for hooking. Lawson Crouse scored on a tic-tac-toe scoring play when Strome and Carter Camper made pretty one-time passes to get the puck to Krouse, who buried it home past Bibeau at the 12:47 mark. Crouse’s first goal of the series was also the first power play goal of the series for the Roadrunners.
Lane Perderson, who scored the game-winning goal in Game 1, skated down the left wing side and sent a rising wrist shot top-shelf past Bibeau’s left shoulder at the 16:16 mark. Andrew Campbell and Trevor Creek received assists on Pederson’s second goal of the series.
The closest chance the Cuda came toward a scoring chance was when Jacob Middleton’s shot hit the post during a mad scramble that Tuscon was able to clear the puck out that led to Pederson’s goal. They didn’t get their first shot on goal on Roadrunners goalie Adin Hill (2-1) until the 17:41 mark of the first period. They were outshot 10-3.
The Cuda responded with a better effort in the first five minutes of the second period as they outshot Tuscon 6-3 during that time frame. However, they weren’t able to get a puck past Hill.
Mike Sislo made it 4-0 with his first goal of the series when he tipped in a shot from the point by Dakota Mermis at the 6:53 mark of the second period. Strome received his third assist on the night. He now has six points in three games for the Roadrunners (3G, 3A).
Campbell fired a shot from the left point off the post into the back of the net for his first goal of the series. Campbell’s first goal of the playoffs ended a 32-game goalless drought at the at the 14:19 mark of the second period. Ryan MacInnnis–son of Hall of Fame defenseman Al MacInnis–and Conor Garland received the assists.
Bibeau’s night was done after that as he let in five goals on only 15 shots to suffer the loss. Stephon Williams relieved Bibeau to finish out the game with seven saves on eight shots. Hill earned the shutout victory stopping all 21 Cuda shots.
Mario Kempe made it 6-0 when he scored his second goal of the series just 53 seconds into the third period. Crouse and Mermis received assists on the goal.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0/3 on the power play. Tuscon was 1/1 on their only attempt. They are now 1/5 overall in the first three games.
Tuscon had a .574 home ice winning percentage (18-13-0) at home during the regular season.
Forward Joachim Blichfeld and defenseman Thomas Gregoire made their debuts for the Barracuda.
FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! A big scrum that was led by Emerson Clark included 11 of the 12 skaters on the ice getting into it with Hill taking jabs at Clark with under eight minutes left in the lopsided game. Crouse also went after Julius Bergman with under five minutes left in the 3rd period. Crouse received a roughing penalty for his antics.
The 6-0 drubbing was the worst defeat for the Cuda since March 24th when they lost 7-3 to the Ontario Reign. It was also the first time they have been shutout in the post season.
The announced attendance was 4,799.
UP NEXT: Both teams return to action for Game 4 on Friday evening April 27 at 7:05 pm PT at Tuscon Convention Center Arena.