Special teams key Silver Knights 4-2 victory over Barracuda, sweep series

The San Jose Barracuda battling it out with the Henderson Silver Knights in game 2 of the Pacific Division Finals at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Sun May 23, 2021 (@sjbarracuda photo)

by Marko Ukalovic

LAS VEGAS, Nev.–The Henderson Silver Knights scored three goals off of special teams en route to defeat the San Jose Barracuda 4-2 on Sunday afternoon at Orleans Arena.

Henderson swept the best of three series and now will wait to host the winner of the San Diego Gulls-Bakersfield Condors semifinal series in the Pacific Division Finals. The winner of that series receives the John D. Chick trophy. San Jose ends their season having lost their last five games against the Silver Knights.

San Jose drew first blood on the first shot of the game just 40 seconds into the first period. Jacob Middleton threw a puck up to the neutral zone that sprung a two-on-one rush with Jake McGrew and Jayden Halbgewachs. McGrew skated down the left slot and snapped home a wrist shot past Silver Knights goalie Logan Thompson for his second goal of the playoffs.

Ivan Chekhovic was injured during a collision with a Brayden Pachal inside the Silver Knights zone with 10:45 left in the first period. Pachal was given a five-minute major for interference. It appeared Pachal delivered a knee-on-knee hit to Chekhovich. Kyle Topping received a penalty for roughing Pachal after the whistle was blown.

Chekhovic didn not return to the game.

Henderson answered back with a short-handed goal while killing the major penalty to Pachal. Gage Quinney carried the puck out its own zone and skated down the right wing where he used Robby Russo as a screen as he fired a wrist shot that beat ‘Cuda goalie Josef Korenar to the far side for his first goal of the playoffs at the 12:26 mark. Kaedan Korczak received the only assist on the play.

Quinney had three short-handed goals during the regular season.

Henderson gained its first lead of the game early in the second period. Paul Cotter sent a pass up to center ice over to Tomas Jurco from inside his own zone. Jurco skated in made a move and beat Korenar with a wrist shot for his first goal of the playoffs at the 1:59 mark.

The Silver Knights went up 3-1 less than three minutes later with its second short-handed goal of the game. A turnover in the neutral zone led to a two-on-one opportunity led by Danny O’Regan. The ‘Cuda killer haunted his old team once again as his wrist show beat Korenar for his first goal of the playoffs at the 4:47 mark.

San Jose made up for the shortie the gave up with a power play goal late on the man advantage. A shot from the left slot from Middleton was saved by Thompson but the rebound bounced around the crease. Maxim Letunov crashed the net and cleaned up the rebound with a backhander past Thompson for his second goal of the playoffs at the 6:24 mark.

The Silver Knights regained its two-goal lead with a power play goal of its own halfway through the second period. Ryan Murphy found O’Regan along the right slot. O’Regan’s initial shot was blocked but he followed up his own shot and put home the rebound past Korenar for his second goal of the game at the 9:06 mark.

The third period went scoreless as Henderson out shot San Jose nine to eight.

Thompson finished the game stopping 30 of the 32 shots he faced to earn the victory. Korenar suffered his second straight loss as he made 24 saves on 28 shots.

GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1-for-5 on the power play. Henderson was 1-for-4.

The Three Stars of the Game were: 1) O’Regan 2) Jurco 3) Quinney

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