by Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif- Jayden Halbgewachs has a nack for scoring game winning goals in overtime. His latest extra session heroics came just 37 seconds into overtime to give the San Jose Barracuda a 3-2 comeback victory over the San Diego Gulls on Friday evening at SAP Center.
Trevor Carrick fed a pass up to Halbgewachs at the blue line. The left winger skated in and moving against the grain, threaded a backhander past Gulls goalie Anthony Stolarz for his team leading 18th goal of the season. He has scored three of the four overtime winners for the ‘Cuda and his second against San Diego this season.
San Jose have won three in a row for the first time all season. San Diego had their two-game winning streak snapped. The point they earned making it to overtime has them tied for fourth with Ontario in the Pacific Division with 64 points.
“I wish we could be having this conversation, let’s say in the beginning of November,” co-head coach Michael Chiasson said about his team’s longest win streak of the season. “But we’ll take it. From the first trip (when ) we went to Iowa, our game has really turned around. It was very helter skelter at times. But I think there’s a lot for us to build on and some stuff to be happy about,”
San Diego (28-18-6-2) drew first blood early in the first period. Justin Kloos skated out from behind the net and peppered a shot on ‘Cuda goalie Zachary Sawchenko that leaked out to Anderw Poturalski whose rebound chance was also stopped by Sawchenko. Kloos crashed the crease and cleaned up the second rebound into the back of the net for his 11th goal of the season at the 5:45 mark.
San Jose (20-27-4-2), who were out 15-11 by San Diego in the opening frame, had a short-handed chance on a 2-on-1 rush but Stolarz stood his ground and kept the puck out of his net.
The Gulls doubled their lead with a short-handed goal two minutes into the second period. Alex Broadhurst skated in on a breakwaway that Sawchenko stoned away. Broadhurst gathered the rebound and centered a pass out to Chase De Leo who buried a one-timer past Sawchenko for his ninth goal of the season at the 2:05 mark.
The Barracuda cut the lead in half late in the second period. Stolarz misplayed the puck that saw two attempts at an empty net sail high and wide by Sasha Chmelevski and Halbgewachs. Chmelevski retrieved the puck along the left boards and quickly turned around and fired a shot on net that beat the Gulls netminder on the shortside for his 11th goal at the 18:05 mark.
San Jose rode that momentum until the final six seconds of the middle frame. Holding possession inside the Gulls zone, Nikolai Knyzhov sent a cross ice pass along the point over to Nick DeSimone. The New York state native then snapped home a wrist shot past Stolarz for the equalizer and his fifth goal of the season with just six seconds left in the period.
“Desi (DeSimone) has done a really good job here the last five or six games. His game is starting to trend back in that direction. We’re at a point right now where guys have to continue to do that for themselves and Desi has put himself in that situation,” said Chiasson.
DeSimone has scored in back-to-back games and continued his point steak to four games for San Jose.
“I definitely had a long dry spell there,” said DeSimone when asked about his current point streak. “That’s always tough. You kinda wonder when it’s going to end. Offense is gonna come so you try not to worry about it too much but you know it’s always back there.”
San Diego had the ice tited in their favor in the second period outshooting San Jose 13-8. Yet they headed into the second intermission deadlocked after the ‘Cuda’s two goals in a span of 1:48.
Sawchenko (6-4-2) finished the evening with a career high 42 saves on 44 shots to earn his sixth victory of the season. Stolarz made 24 saves on 27 shots in the losing effort.
“I’ll be honest, my rebound control wasn’t great tonight. The D-core and the forwards came back and took away those second chances. That was huge. I tried to weather the storm the best I could,” said Sawchenko.
The third period featured descent scoring chances by both teams but neither could end the game in regulation. San Diego out shot San Jose 16-7.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0-for-3 on the power play. San Diego went 0-for-5.
Tevor Carrick played in his 400th professional game (393 AHL, 7 NHL).
‘Cuda defenseman Michael Downing played in his 100th AHL game.
Danil Yutaykin returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with an upper body injury.
San Jose wore a cowboy themed specialty jersey in honor of “Cuda Country Night”. A Roy Sommer bobblehead was given away to the first 4,000 fans. Sommer and his son Mo performed the ceremonial faceoff before the game.
The announced attendance was 4,542.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda conclude its six-game homestand versus the Gulls on Saturday 3/7 at 8:00pm at SAP Center.