Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
San Diego may be America’s Finest City but it has been a House of Gorrors for the San Jose Barracuda for more than a year. Thanks to a late power play goal in the third period by Alex True, San Jose reversed their fortunes with a 3-2 regulation victory over the San Diego Gulls on Wednesday evening at Pechanga Arena.
It was the first victory in San Diego this season (1-3) and the first win since January 20, 2018. With the much-needed win, the Cuda have tied the Gulls for second place in the Pacific Division with 73 points.
True’s heroics came when Cavan Fitzgerald sent in a low shot from the point that gave captain John McCarthy a chance, but was initially stopped by the Gulls’ goalie Kevin Boyle. True pounced on the rebound and punched it in for his team-leading 23rd goal on the power play at 15:16 mark of the third period.
San Jose (33-20-3-4) drew first blood early in the first period. Jeffery Viel executed a big body check during a battle for a puck inside the Gulls’ zone that resulted in a loose puck gathered up by TJ Hensick. Hensick quickly fed it over to Dylan Gambrell, who snapped a wrist shot far side past Boyle (22-10-1) for his 18th goal of the season at the 6:30 mark.
The Cuda doubled their lead when Francis Perron fed a pass over to Nick DeSimone in the high slot. DeSimone wasted no time and fired a shot just underneath the glove of Boyle for his 12th goal of the season at the 13:44 mark.
San Diego (33-21-4-3) cut the lead in half with just three seconds left in the opening frame. Sam Carrick won a faceoff over to Chase De Leo, who fed it over to Ben Street, who wired a shot past Cuda goalie Antoine Bibeau (13-12-5) for his fifth goal of the season at the 19:57 mark.
The Gulls drew even late in the second period. Adam Cracknell was able to poke home a shot from close range for his 16th goal of the season at the 14:15 mark. The goal snapped six-game goal-less drought for Cracknell. Street and Brent Gates Jr. were credited with assists.
Despite outshooting the Gulls 13-5 in the middle frame, San Jose went into the second intermission tied up at 2-2.
In the third period, San Jose were in penalty trouble to start the third period. Their penalty kill unit responded by killing 1:18 of a 5-on-3 opportunity as Bibeau made some big saves to be the best penalty killer for the Cuda.
Bibeau, who played one of his best games of the season, was finally rewarded with a victory, making 23 saves on 25 shots to push his record to a game over the .500 mark. Boyle stopped 23 of the 26 pucks he faced in suffering the defeat.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1/3 on the power play. San Diego was 0/3.
The announced attendance was 6,934.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda return back home to host the Ontario Reign on Friday, March 29 at 7:00 pm at SAP Center.