Barracuda’s power play the difference in 3-2 win over Eagles

The San Jose Barracuda edge out the Colorado Eagles at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland on Sat Oct 23, 2021 in AHL action (image from sjbarracuda.com)

by Marko Ukalovic

LOVELAND, Colo—Third time was a charm for the San Jose Barracuda on the power play.

After not scoring a power play goal in the team’s first two games, the Barracuda scored twice with the man advantage in a 3-2 comeback win over the Colorado Eagles on Saturday evening at the Budweiser Events Center.

San Jose have won two games in a row. Colorado have lost four games in a row to start their season.

San Jose (2-1-0-0) drew first blood on the power play early in the first period. Ryan Merkley sent in a shot from the point and Jayden Halbgewachs was able to redirect the puck past Eagles goalie Justus Annunen (0-1-1) for his second goal of the season at the 2:24 mark.

The power play goal for the ‘Cuda snapped an 0-for-6 streak to begin the season.

Colorado (0-3-1-0) answered back with a power play goal of their own to even the score. Jacob MacDonald kept the play alive at the point as the puck bounced over to Kiefer Sherwood. The native of Columbus, Ohio wired in a wrist shot from the left slot past ‘Cuda goalie Zachary Sawchenko (0-0-0) for his third goal of the season.

The Eagles gained their first lead on an even strength goal. Alex Newhook sent a rink wide pass over to Rolan McKeown. The Eagles defenseman made a backhand pass through the crease where Callahan Burke tapped the puck into an open net past Sawchenko for his third goal of the season at the 13:17 mark.

Colorado dominated the last 10 minutes of the opening frame as they out shot San Jose 14-10.

San Jose answered back with the equalizer on just their fifth shot of the period. Ryan Merkley skated down the right wing and his centering pass was deflected off the pads of Annunen. The puck caromed over to Halbgewachs who buried a wrist shot past Annunen for his second goal of the game and third of the season at the 17:46 mark.

Despite outshooting the Barracuda 16-6 in the middle frame and having the ice tilted inside the ‘Cuda for the majority of the period, the Eagles went into the second intermission scratching their heads.

San Jose scored the go ahead go with its second power play goal of the game. Nick Merkley sent a slap shot from the right wing and Noah Gregor tipped the puck past Annunen for his first goal of the season at the 7:31 mark with just one second left on the power play. Joel Kellman was credited with the secondary assist.

Colorado poured the offense on the final 10 minutes of the third period as they out shot San Jose 13-11.

The Cuda survived the final 19 seconds down six-on-four as Colorado had a power play as Kellman was called for a holding penalty and pulled Annunen for an extra attacker.

Sawchenko (1-0-0) finished the game stopping 41 of the 43 shots he faced to earn his first win of the season. Annunen (0-2-2) made 24 saves on 27 shots in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished 2-for-3 on the power play. Colorado was 1-for-3.

The Three Stars of the Game were: 1) Halbegwachs 2) Dalton Smith 3) Burke

UP NEXT: San Jose and Colorado return to meet up for a third straight game on Friday 10/29 at 7:00pm at SAP Center.

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