San Jose Barracuda chalk up their first win of this brief two game series against the Abbotsford Canucks at Abbotsford Centre on Sat Dec 4, 2021 (photo by San Jose Barracuda)
by Marko Ukalovic
ABBOTSFORD, B.C.—Joachim Blichfeld is catching fire at the right time.
The Danish forward scored two goals, including the game winner, in the third period to propel the San Jose Barracuda to a come from behind 6-4 victory over the Abbotsford Canucks on Saturday evening at Abbotsford Centre.
Cole Moberg sent a shot off the boards and Blichfeld collected the puck and performed a spinning wrist shot that beat Canucks goalie Michael DiPierto up high for his seventh goal of the season with exactly four minutes left in the third period which proved to be the game winner.
Blichfeld has six goals in his last six games, including back-to-back games with multi goals.
San Jose snapped its season long four-game losing streak. Abbotsford had its two-game winning streak end.
San Jose (6-8-1-0) received a shot in the arm with forward Scott Reedy back in its lineup as the Sharks sent him back down to the Barracuda after playing two games in the NHL.
The ‘Cuda drew first blood 30 seconds into the game on an odd-man rush. Nick Merkley led a two-on-one with Jayden Halbgewachs. Merkley made a cross ice pass over to Halbgewachs who buried a wrist shot on the short side past DiPierto for his sixth goal of the season. Captain Jaycob Megna received the secondary assist.
That was just the sixth time San Jose has scored the first goal of the game this season.
Abbotsford (6-7-2-1) answered back on the power play. A shot from the point by Phil Di Guiseppe bounced around the crease with traffic in front of ‘Cuda goalie Alexei Melnichuk. Will Lockwood cleaned up the rebound for his fourth goal of the season at the 2:59 mark.
Reedy helped San Jose regain the lead on the power play. Nick Merkley sent in a shot from the left wing on net. After a mad scramble in front of the crease, Reedy, who was down on the ice, poked the puck underneath DiPierto for his team leading ninth goal of the season.
Reedy extended his goals and points streak to five-games.
The Barracuda went up 3-1 lead just past the halfway mark of the opening frame. Ryan Merkley danced around inside the Canucks zone before finding Jacke McGrew along the right wing. McGrew skated in and wired a wrist shot to the far side for his third goal of the season at the 10:44 mark.
Once again, the Canucks answered back on the power play. Cameron Schilling found Di Guiseppe along the left slot and the Canucks defenseman blasted a slap shot past Melnichuk for his fourth goal of the season at the 12:22 mark.
It was the first time this season San Jose held a lead after the first period.
Abbotsford even the score with their third power play goal early in the second period. Sheldon Rempal sent a pass behind his back from down low near the crease over to Nic Petan. The Canucks center made a move inside before firing a wrist shot top shelf past Melnichuk for his fourth goal of the season at the 1:54 mark.
The Barracuda came into the game with the worst penalty kill in the AHL. It is the seventh game this season they have given up multiple power play goals in a game.
San Jose thought they had their third lead of the game. Montana Onyebuchi sent a slap shot from the right point that hit off the post. Blichfeld’s second attempt had him banked the puck off the back off into the back of the net. After video review it was determined no goal.
Abbotsford took advantage of the break as they scored their third unanswered goal. Jack Rathbone received a cross ice pass at the left point, he skated in and sent a seeing-eyed wrist shot through the five-hole of Melnichuk for his first goal of the season at the 5:56 mark.
That ended the night for Melnichuk as ‘Cuda head coach Roy Sommer replaced Melnichuk with Zachary Sawchenko. Melnichuk gave up four goals on just 15 shots in 25:56 of action.
San Jose evened the score with an even strength goal halfway through the third period. Sasha Chmelevski centered a backhand pass from behind the net over to Blichfeld whose one-timer to the far post beat DiPierto for his first goal of the game and sixth goal of the season at the 10:48 mark.
Evan Weinger scored an empty netter to seal the game with 30 seconds left in the game. His third goal of the season snapped a five-game goal less draught.
Sawchenko stopped all 10 shots he faced in relief to earn the victory. DiPierto made 26 saves on 31 shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose finished 1-for-4 on the power play. Abbotsford was 3-for-4.
The Three Stars of the Game were: 1) Blichfeld 2) Lockwood 3) Di Guiseppe.
Reedy, despite his time up for the parent club, leads the AHL with five power play goal and is first in the league in shooting percentage.
San Jose had its fourth come from behind victory of the season.
The Canucks are now (5-2-1-1) on home ice.
Onyebuchi and Vincent Arseneau had long, spirited fight in the first period.
The Canucks had its first annual Teddy Bear Toss night.
UP NEXT: Both teams conclude their two-game series on Sunday 12/5 at 4:00pm at Abbotsford Centre.