by Marko Ukalovic
The San Jose Barracuda are starting to peak at the right time with the playoff right around the corner. They scored four unanswered goals and held on late for a 4-3 victory over the San Diego Gulls on Wednesday evening at Pechanga Arena.
With the win, San Jose clinched home ice for the first round of the playoffs and remain only two points back of Bakersfield for first place in the Pacific Division with two games left in the season.
San Diego (35-24-3-4) drew first blood halfway through the first period when Jack Kopacka sent a pass over to Justin Kloos, who chipped the puck underneath the cross-bar past Cuda goalie Josef Korenar (23-8-2) for his 18th goal of the season at the 9:46 mark.
San Jose (38-21-3-4) scored the equalizer in the second period. Maxim Letunov won a faceoff back to the point where Thomas Gregoire fired a shot on net where Francis Perron tip the through the five-hole of Gulls goalie Kevin Boyle (24-13-1) for his 18th goal at the 11:33 mark.
The Cuda gained the nearly three minutes later when Letunov centered a pass from below the goal line out to the low slot where Jon Martin slid the puck past Boyle for his 11th goal of the season at the 14:27 mark.
San Jose took control of the game going up 3-1 with 10 seconds left in the middle frame. Captain John McCarthy won a face off over to Evan Weinger. Weinger sneaked a wrist shot past Boyle through a sea of traffic for his 10th win of the season at the 19:50 mark.
The Cuda scored their final goal halfway through the third period when Martin poked a Perron pass over to Letunov that sent him on a breakaway. Letunov made a nice backhand-to-forehand move to deke out Boyle for his 12th goal of the season and third point of the night at the 9:48 mark.
San Diego wouldn’t go away quietly. Ben Street scored a power play goal for his seventh goal of the season at the 13:45 mark. Then, Corey Troop concluded the scoring with seven seconds left when he scored his 20th goal of the season at the 19:53 mark.
Korenar made 29 saves on 32 San Diego shots to earn his third consecutive win, while Boyle (24-13-1) suffered the loss after giving four goals on 33 shots.
GAME NOTES: San Jose struggled on the power play going 0/6. San Diego was 1/3.
The announced attendance was 8,036.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda travel to Colorado for the final two games of the season on Friday, April 12 at 6:05 pm at Budweiser Events Center.