Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
by Marko Ukalovic
The San Jose Barracuda had looked like the playing of a broken record in five straight games with the opposing team, scoring the first two goals in the first period to take control of the game. However, three unanswered goals in the third period paved the way for a 5-4 comeback shootout victory over the Stockton Heat on Sunday afternoon at SAP Center.
The Cuda desperately snapped their four-game losing skid and have won their third consecutive shootout (4-4). Francis Perron scored the only goal in the shootout as Cuda goalie Antoine Bibeau was perfect stopping all three Stockton attempts.
Stockton (25-26-4-2) drew first blood while short-handed in the first period. Ryan Lomberg led a 2-on-1 odd man rush Dillon Dube. Lomberg connected with Dube who beat Bibeau (12-10-5) for his 13th goal of the season at the 6:11 mark. Juuso Valimaki received the secondary assist on Dube’s second short-handed goal in consecutive games. It was the 16th short-handed goal for Stockton this season, which leads the AHL.
The Heat doubled their lead after taking advantage of a failed Cuda clearing attempt. Spencer Foo kept the puck in, fed a pass over to Tyler Graovac, who found an open Dube, who put the puck past Bibeau for his second goal and 14th of the season at the 9:04 mark.
San Jose (31-18-2-1) cut the lead in half early in the second period. Francis Perron was able to tip home a shot from the point by Kyle Wood, who broke his stick on the shot, past Heat goalie Jon Gillies (13-15-5) for his 16th goal of the season at the 2:47 mark. The goal broke a 10-game goal-less drought for Perron.
Stockton regained their two-goal lead when Foo scored his 15th goal of the season on the power play at the 8:36 mark. Dube and Valimaki were credited with assists.
Graovac made it 4-1 when he scored his 20th goal of the season at the 17:47 mark. Foo and Dube, who was involved in the scoring of all four Stockton goals, received assists.
The third period belonged to San Jose as they scored three unanswered goals to tie the game and force overtime.
Evan Weinger jammed home his own rebound after his initial redirection of a shot from the point by Matt Fonteyne hit the right post. It was Weinger’s ninth goal of the season at the 10:11 mark of the third period. Nick DeSimone was credited with the secondary assist.
Alex True cut the deficit to a one-goal game. With Bibeau pulled for an extra attacker, True received the puck from Maxim Letunov, turned and fired the puck through a sea of traffic past Gillies for his team-leading 21st goal of the season at the 18:33. Jeremy Roy received the secondary assist.
TJ Hensick brought down the house with the game equalizer with 1:05 left in the game while the Cuda had a 6-on-4 advantage with Valimaki in the sin-bin for cross checking. DeSimone and Jayden Halbgewachs were credited assists on Hensick third goal of the season.
Stockton had a power play opportunity in the over time session but weren’t able to cash in, thanks to Bibeau making a few big saves to send the game to the shootout.
Bibeau made 16 saves on 20 to earn his 12th victory of the season. Gillies finished with 31 saves on 35 shots in suffering the defeat .
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1/6 on the power play despite the Heat having the 30th ranked penalty kill in the league. Stockton was 1/5.
Jon Martin and Buddy Robinson exchanged fisticuffs late in the first period.
The announce attendance was 4,642. It was the second annual Pucks and Paws Day, where fans were able to bring their dogs to the game.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda host the Colorado Eagles on Saturday 3/16 at 1:15 pm at SAP Center.