Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
The San Jose Barracuda are the worst third period team in the AHL with a goal differential of -16. They made a step to reverse that trend by scoring four unanswered goals in the final frame for a 4-2 come-from-behind win over the San Diego Gulls on Friday evening at Pachenga Arena.
The Cuda snapped their three game losing streak, while San Diego has lost three games in a row. The Cuda are now 3-2 against San Diego this season. The two teams both have 22 points each as they sit at the bottom of the Pacific Divison.
San Diego (10-12-1-1) drew first blood right at the end of a power play that included 50 seconds of a 5-on-3 in the first period. Ryan Johnston fired a shot that banked off a skate that deflected over to a wide-open Blake Pietila, who punched home the rebound for his fifth goal of the season at the 13:16 mark.
The goal snapped a streak by the anemic San Diego power play as they were 1-for-35 in their last 10 games before Pietila’s goal.
Both goalies put on a clinic in the opening 20 minutes. Gulls goalie Anthony Stolarz stopped San Jose best chance, a shot by Alexander True on a 2-on-1 rush with Jonny Brodzinski. ‘Cuda goalie Andrew Shortridge stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced
San Jose (10-14-0-2) opened up the second period on a power play as Josh Mahura went into the sinbin for interference with four seconds left in the first period. However, the Gulls penalty kill kept them off the scoreboard.
The ‘Cuda outshot the Gulls 13-7 but it was Shortridge who made a momentum changing save with under a minute left in the middle frame when he stoned away a shot by Alex Dotsie on a 2-on-1 rush as he lunged from his right to left to frustrate Dotsie.
San Jose scored the equalizer early in the third period. True found Joachim Blichfeld in the Gulls zone. Blichfeld fired a low wrist shot off the post and into the back of the net for team leading 11th goal of the season at the 5:32 mark. Nick DeSimone received the secondary assist.
Blichfeld is also the current leader in points for San Jose with 22.
Keaton Middleton gave the Cuda its first lead after taking a pass from Nick Meloche and he sniped a wrist shot from above the left faceoff circle short side under the crossbar for his second goal of the season at the 9:54 mark.
San Jose scored a late insurance goal when Jayden Halbgewachs and Dylan Gambrell led an odd man rush into the Gulls zone. The duo had a pretty give-and-go with each other as Halbgewachs buried the puck past Stolarz for a tic-tac-toe goal, his eighth of the season, at the 18:09 mark.
True scored an empty-net goal with 38 seconds left in the game. It was his eighth of the season for the Danish forward.
Jack Kopacka capped off the scoring with his fourth goal of the season with two seconds in the game.
Shortridge finished the evening with 25 saves on 27 shots for the Alaskan native’s third victory of the season to earn the victory. Stolarz made 33 saves on 37 shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0-for-4 on the power play. San Diego was 2-for-4.
Blichfeld extended his point streak to five games. He now has goals in back-to-back games since being reassigned back to the ‘Cuda.
Three stars of the game:
3) K. Middleton
The announced attendance was 7,519.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda host the Stockton Heat on Friday 12/27 at 1:15 pm at SAP Center.