by Marko Ukalovic
LOVELAND, Colo- Lately the Colorado Eagles have had a different hero win during their winning streak. It was Sheldon Dries’ turn as his second goal of the game was the game winning goal with 1:06 left in overtime to beat the San Jose Barracuda 4-3 on Saturday evening at Budwiser Events Center.
With Anti Suomela in the penalty box for holding, Jacob MacDonald sent a hard shot into traffic that ‘Cuda goalie Josef Korenar stopped but the rebound trickled out to the left where Dries tapped home the puck for a power play goal, his 18th of the season.
Despite earning a point, San Jose has lost a season high seven games in a row. Colorado has won four games in a row and moved into tie with Stockton for second place in the Pacific Divison with 56 points.
San Jose (14-25-2-2) got off to the start it wanted in the first period. Jayden Halbgewachs led a 2-on-2 rush at center ice. He fed a pass over to Joachim Blichfeld and from the right slot he fired a wrist shot past Eagles goalie Hunter Miska to the shortside for his team leading 15th goal of the season at the 7:00 mark.
The ‘Cuda doubled their lead toward the end of the opening frame. Suomela showed off his speed skating into the Eagles zone before sending a wrist shot on net initially stopped by Miska. Keaton Middleton pinched in fom the point and cleaned up the rebound for his third goal of the season at the 16:03 mark.
San Jose dominated play in the first period and their penalty kill stopped two Colorado power play opportunities.
Colorado cut the deficit in half early in the second period on the power play. Connor Timmons made a drop pass back up to the point where Martin Kaut lasered in a slap shot through a sea of traffic beating Korenar for his fifth goal of the season at the 1:35 mark.
The Barracuda regained its two-goal lead on the power play under six minutes later. Suomela intercepted a pass behind the net and flipped it behind them where he skated around the Miska before despositing the puck into the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season at the 7:17 mark. Ivan Chekhovich received the only assist on the power play tally.
Colorado scored the next two goals in a 1:42 span near the end of the middle frame. Erik Condra skated in along the right boards and fed a pass over to Mark alt in the high slot. Alt snapped home a wrist shot past Korenar for his fourth goal of the season at the 15:05 mark.
Before San Jose could gather themselves, Conor Timmins shot from the left point was redirected by Dries into the back of the net for his first of two goals, his 17th of the season at the 16:47 mark.
The sequence shell-shocked the ‘Cuda as they headed into the second intermission tied at 3-3.
Tempers flared once again in a scoreless third period. Jeffery Viel got into a battle with Dries as the two exchanged fisticuffs at the 13:25 mark. Viel has fights in back to back games.
Miska finished the night making 29 saves on 32 shots to earn his 11th win of the season. Korenar, playing in his first game since suffering an injury back on January 22, made 31 saves on 35 shots in suffering the defeat.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1-for-4 on the power play. Colorado was 3-for-8.
Suomela collected a pair of points (one goal, one assist) in just his second game back from the Sharks after a two and a half month stint in the NHL.
Dries is now fourth in the AHL in power play goals with 10.
Trevor Carrick collected a pair of assists, his third multi-assist effort of the season.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda return home to host the Stockton Heat on Wednesday 2/12 at 7:00pm at SAP Center.