Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
by Marko Ukalovic
The San Jose Barracuda are flying high as they looked to finish off the regular season on a strong note and that they did. They score three unanswered goals en route to a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Eagles on Friday night at Budweiser Events Center.
With the win, their fourth in a row, the Cuda moved into a first place tie with the Bakersfield Condors at 85 points. The Condors have a game in hand on San Jose heading into the weekend with games against the Ontario Reign and Stockton Heat.
Nick DeSimone scored what proved to be the game-winning goal right at the end of the second period, Evan Weinger gained the line down the right-wing and made a drop pass over to DeSimone, who fired the puck past the short side of Francouz for his 14th goal of the season at the 19:48 mark.
The first period had no scoring as both goaltenders did their part to keep the game scoreless, despite power play opportunities for each team. San Jose outshot Colorado 11-9.
The Cuda had two golden chances to break the seal halfway through the second period. Ryan Merkeley, who made his debut for the Cuda tonight, found himself one-on-one against Eagles goalie Pavel Francouz (26-17-3) — only to have Francouz rob the San Jose Sharks 2018 first round draft pick. Then Anti Suomela had a shot hit off the post that beat Francouz.
Colorado (35-27-4-1) drew first blood with just over six minutes left in the middle frame. Sergei Boikov led a two-on-one odd man rush and feathered a pass over to Michael Joly, who buried the puck Cuda goalie Antoine Bibeau (16-13-5) for his 15th goal of the season at the 13:57 mark.
The lead would last a mere nine seconds as San Jose (39-21-3-4) came back on the next shift and scored the equalizer. Suomela centered a pass from below the goal line over to Jeffery Viel who batted the puck out of mid-air into the back of the net for his 11th goal of the season at the 14:06 mark.
The Cuda would get an insurance goal early in the third period. TJ Hensick found Dylan Gambrell above the right face-off circle and he snapped a low wrist shot past Francouz for his 20th goal of the season at the 2:10 mark.
Bibeau finished the night, making 27 saves on 28 shots for his second consecutive victory. Francouz suffered his second straight defeat, allowing three goals on 34 shots.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0/5 on the power play. Colorado was 0/5.
The announced attendance was 5,289.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda finish the regular season against the Eagles on Saturday, April 13 at 6:00 pm at Budweiser Events Center.