by Marko Ukalovic
SAN DIEGO, Calif- The San Diego Gulls scored three unanswered goals led by Kiefer Sherwood’s hat trick to distanced themselves from the San Jose Barracuda in a 5-3 victory on Friday evening at Pachenga Arena.
In their first game after the All-Star break, San Jose has lost their fourth game in a row while San Diego snapped their two-game losing streak against their Pacific Division rival and are now 10 points ahead of the ‘Cuda in the standings.
San Jose (14-21-1-4) drew first blood in the first period. Evan Weinger intercepted a clearing attempt by San Diego and fed a pass out to Lukas Radil along the left slot. Radil then snapped a wrist shot past Gulls goalie Anthony Stolarz for his second goal of the season at the 1:24 mark on the ‘Cuda’s first shot of the game.
San Diego (19-16-3-2) scored the equalizer 20 seconds later when Sherwood scored on a penalty shot. He made a move to the left then dangled to the right before burying a wrist shot past ‘Cuda goalie Zachary Sawchenko for his 12th goal of the season.
The Gulls went ahead six minutes later on the power play. Isac Lunderstrom fired a shot on goal that Sawchenko initially saved but Chris Mueller crashed the net and knocked home the rebound for his 13th goal of the season at the 7:42 mark.
San Jose scored the equalizer halfway through the opening 20 minutes when Maxim Letunov scored the first of his two goals of the evening on the power play. Thomas Gregoire sent in shot from the point that Letunov was able to redirect past Stolarz for his ninth goal of the season at the 10:35 mark.
San Diego reclaimed the lead with four seconds left in the first period while killing a penalty. Sherwood intercepted a pass at the blueline and raced down the left side of the ice before depositing a wrist shot in the upper far corner of the net for a short-handed goal, his second of the evening and his 13th goal of the season.
The Gulls extended their lead to 4-2 in the second period. Justin Kloos attempted shot from the left point was blocked by a ‘Cuda defender. Kloos got his own rebound and wired home a shot past Sawchenko for his ninth goal of the season at the 12:31 mark.
San Diego put the game away with their Sherwood’s second short-handed of the game early in the third period. Chase De Leo stole the puck of Gregoire in the ‘Cuda zone. He quickly fed it to a wide open Sherwood who buried a wrist shot past Sawchenko for the hat trick at the 5:58 mark and his 14th goal of the season.
Letunov completed the scoring with his second goal of the contest with under three minutes left in the game. After a mad scramble in front of the crease, Letunov used a back-hander to net his 10th goal of the season at the 17:55 mark.
Stolarz made 41 saves on 44 shots to earn his 15th win of the season. Sawchenko stopped 24 of the 29 shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1-for-7 on the power play. San Diego was 1-for-4.
Letunov, snapped an eight goal goal-less draught as he recorded his first multi-goal game of his AHL career and now leads the Barracuda in points (10+20=30).
Sherwood became the first player to score two shorthanded goals against the Barracuda in a game and became the fourth opposing player this season to score three times against the Barracuda.
Radil snapped a 12-game goalless drought.
UP NEXT: The two teams faceoff with each other again on Wednesday 2/5 at 7:00pm at SAP Center.