Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Barracuda continued their dominance on home ice. They were able to hold on for a 2-1 victory over the Texas Stars on Friday evening at SAP Center. They swept the two-game series against Texas.
San Jose (23-8-1-13) drew first blood early in the first period. Matt Fonteyne skated in along the right boards and fought off a check. Maxim Letunov set a pick, freeing up Fonteyne to skate in from the right faceoff circle and wrist a shot top-shelf on Stars goalie Landon Bow (16-7-4) for his third goal of the season at the 3:59 mark. Manny Wiederer received the secondary assist.
“It’s alway nice to contribute,” said Fonteyne. “If you get pucks on net, the odd one is going to find the net. I’m really thankful for Maxim (Letunov) and Manny (Wiederer). They did a really good job to create space for me for my own shot.”
Texas (21-13-3-2) thought they had tied the game half way through the opening frame, but a last-minute save on a rolling puck heading into the net that was swept away at the last second by defenseman Keaton Middleton.
San Jose extended its lead on the power play with under three minutes remaining in the first period. Cavan Fitzgerald shot from the point caromed off the back of the boards past two players onto the stick of Jayden Halbgewachs, who made a move to the inside and sent in a shot through traffic as he was falling down that found its way into the back of the net. Halbgewachs’ 10th goal of the season came at the 17:12 mark. Kyle Wood received the secondary assists.
James Phelan had a short-handed breakaway opportunity with under a minute left, but Cuda goalie Josef Korenar (14-3-1) came up with a huge save as the puck trickled underneath his pads to the left corner. Despite being outshot 20-9, San Jose headed into the first intermission with a commanding two-goal lead.
“I felt good after the first period,” said Korenar. “20 shots after one period is a lot of shots. But any goalie who gets 20 shots in a period is going to feel good.”
Texas cut the lead in half on the power play early in the second period. It only took eight seconds for Justin Dowling to send the puck back to the point where Gavin Bayreuther rifled in a shot past Korenar for his third goal of the season at the 4:49 mark.
Texas had the majority of the scoring chances, including a point-blank chance that was one-timed just wide, but weren’t able to tie the game up heading into the second intermission, despite out shooting the Cuda 12-7 in the middle frame.
“To be honest with you I thought it was the two worst periods we’ve played in a long while,” said head coach Roy Sommer. “I told them we played two really bad periods. If you win the third (period) you win a game. And that’s what they did. We found a way to win the game.”
In the third period, San Jose had the ice tilted in their favor out shooting the Stars 14-7 as the line of Alex True-Jon Martin-Francis Perron created the majority of the scoring chances only to have Bow frustrate them.
“I think we got lucky to come up 2-0 in the first period,” said Halbgewachs. “We started to find our game in the third period. We got two points and that’s all that matters.”
Korenar finished the game with 40 saves on 41 shots to earn his 14th win of the season. Bow, despite the strong game in net, suffered the loss stopping 29 of the 31 pucks he faced.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1/4 on the power play. Texas was 1/4.
Forward Dylan Gambrell was recalled up by the San Jose Sharks.
Coming into the game, Korenar was second in the AHL in goals-against average (2.29) and tied for fifth with 13 wins.
The announced attendance was 3,064.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda return to action on Monday, January 21 as they host the Bakersfield Condors at 7:00 pm at SAP Center.