Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Barracuda fighting for their playoff lives, used the power play to their advantage and cruised their way to a 5-0 shutout win over their Pacific Division rival, the Ontario Reign, on Friday evening at SAP Center.
With the win coupled with San Diego’s loss to Bakersfield, San Jose is now in sole possession of second place in the division with 75 points, two points ahead of the Gulls with seven games left in the regular season.
San Jose (34-20-3-4) drew first blood halfway through the first period. Evan Weinger led a rush, where he sent a drop pass down to Jayden Halbgewachs, who threaded a pass over to John McCarthy at the left slot. The Cuda captain buried the puck past Reign goalie Cal Petersen (10-18-3) to the right side for a tic-tac-toe goal and his 12th of the season at the 10:39 mark.
The Cuda doubled their lead as they beat the buzzer at the end of the opening frame. Jacob Middleton sent in a shot from the point that was blocked. McCarthy seized the puck and snapped a back-hander past Petersen for his second goal of the evening and 13th on the season with 0.5 seconds left to give San Jose a 2-0 advantage heading into the first intermission.
The Cuda opened up the second period with a power play goal. TJ Hensick fed a pass over to Nick DeSimone, who fired a shot that ricochet off Reign defenseman Daniel Brickley that rattled into the back of the net for DeSimone’s 13th goal of the season at the 6:44 mark. Francis Perron was credited with the secondary assist.
The Reign (22-30-6-3) could not stay out of the sin-bin as San Jose continued their dominance on the power play just over two minutes later. It took them 16 seconds to score on the hooking penalty by Nikita Scherbak. Hensick found an open Jeffery Viel, who wasted no time beating Petersen with a wrist shot for his ninth goal of the season at the 9:10 mark.
Cuda goalie Antoine Bibeau (14-12-5) was sharp, despite the lack of shots he saw. He made two spectacular saves in the middle frame. First, he stoned an attempt by Sam Herr on a two-on-one odd man rush. Then, with a little over a minute left, he robbed Brett Sutter when he reached out along with his left arm to keep the puck out of the back of the net.
Anti Suomela completed the scoring with 22 seconds left in the game as fired a shot off the cross-bar and into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the season at the 19:38 mark. Viel and Matt Fonteyne received assists on the goal.
Bibeau has won back-to-back games as he stopped all 21 shots he faced to earn his 14th win of the season and his first shutout of the season. Petersen made 24 saves on 29 shots in suffering the loss.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 2/4 on the power play. Ontario was 0/1.
McCarthy played in his 251st game in a Cuda uniform, a franchise record.
San Jose went 5-3 in the season series against Ontario.
DeSimone now has a current seven-game point streak, a career-best for the Cuda defenseman.
Bibeau has 16 career shutouts.
The announced attendance was 4,187.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda travel down to Bakersfield to take on the Condors on Saturday, March 30 at 7:00 pm at Rabobank Arena.