by Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE—It was not a good afternoon for the The San Jose Barracuda.
The Texas Stars scored five goals in the final two periods to route the ‘Cuda 7-3 on Saturday afternoon at SAP Center.
San Jose has lost three games in a row and fell under .500 for the first time this season. Texas snapped its three game losing streak.
Both teams used the first 10 minutes of the game as a feeling out process as there were only five combined shots on goal.
Texas (4-5-0-0) was almost gift wrapped a goal thanks to ‘Cuda goalie Alexei Melnichuk. The second year goalie misplayed the puck behind the net to Stars captain Curtis McKenzie but Melnichuk was able to slide back into the crease preventing the puck from going into the back of the net at the 7:55 mark.
San Jose (2-3-1-0) drew first blood just halfway through the first period. Joachim Blichfeld skated down the right side into the Stars zone. Blichfeld drew three Stars defenders toward him before finding Noah Gregor, who played his first game since being in Covid-19 protocol the past week, all alone in the slot. Gregor snapped home a wrist shot to the short side beating Stars goalie Jake Oettinger for his third goal of the season at the 12:30 mark.
Gregor led the ‘Cuda was involved in all three of the Barracuda’s goal on the afternoon.
“It was three points good,” said ‘Cuda head coach Roy Sommer when asked how good it was to Gregor back in the lineup. “But you can’t rely on one line to get all the points for us right now.”
The Stars answered back on the power play late in the opening frame. With San Jose in the sinbin for too many men on the ice, Anthony Louis fed a pass back up to the point where Andres Borgman fired a one-timer through a sea of traffic into the back of the net for his third goal of the season at the 14:50 mark.
Texas earned its first lead of the game with 63 seconds left in the period. Gregor turned the puck over inside his own defensive zone. Fredrick Karlstrom found Nicholas Caamano in the left slot. Caamano centered the puck over to Oskar Back whose shot deflected off Caamano for his second goal of the season.
The Stars struck early in the second period early after the ‘Cuda were guilty of another turnover trying to clear their own zone. Josh Melnick finished off a two-on-one when he buried a one-timer past Melnichuk after receiving a cross ice pass from Karlstrom. The Stars third unanswered goal was Melnick’s second goal of the season at the 3:28 mark.
San Jose cut the lead to a one a goal deficit with a power play goal of their own. Gregor found Scott Reedy below the net on the right side. Reedy fed a backhanded pass to Jayden Halbgewachs in the slot and the ‘Cuda left winger buried a one-timer to the far side past Oettinger for his third goal of the season at the 6:15 mark.
Texas regained a two-goal lead late in the middle frame. San Jose failed to clear the puck out its own zone when a shot from the point by Ben Gleason pinballed off a couple of ‘Cuda defenders out to the front of the crease. Karlstrom came in a lifted a backhander top shelf past Melnichuk for his second goal of the game at the 15:52 mark.
The Barracuda once again cut the lead down to one goal with just over a minute remaining in the period. Gregor slid a pass over to Mark Alt at the left point. Alt sent in a wrist shot that deflected off a Stars defender and pass Oettinger for his first goal of the season at the 18:51 mark.
Texas capped off a wild middle frame with its third goal of the period 27 seconds later. Joel L’Esperance threaded a nifty backhanded pass between two ‘Cuda defenders over to Riley Tufte whose quick wrist shot beat Melnichuk for his fourth goal of the season at the 19:18 mark.
‘Cuda goalie Zachary Emond, who was recently called up from the Orlando Solar Bears, made his AHL debut when he replaced Melnichuk to start the third period. Melnichuk made 13 saves on 18 shots in 40:00 of action.
The Stars scored a controversial goal just over three minutes into the third period. Caamano crashed into Emond as he came in on an coast-to-coast rush in what appeared to have been goalie interference. With Emond down and out of the net, Alex Petrovic fired the puck into an empty net. After deliberation from the officials on the ice, Petrovic was awarded the unassisted goal, his first of the season at the 3:09 mark.
“That was a bullsh*t goal. He (the referee) should’ve blew the whistle. He (Emond) was down for five seconds. He was ran over, that’s goalie interference and it’s a sh*t call,” Sommer said.
McKenzie capped off the scoring with a breakaway goal with 30 seconds left remaining for his second goal of the season. McKenzie’s leads the Stars in scoring with seven points on the season (2G,5A).
Oettinger finished the game with 16 saves on 19 shots to earn the victory. Emond stopped 10 of the 12 shots he faced in his first appearance of the season for the ‘Cuda.
GAME NOTES: San Jose finished 1-for-2 on the power play. Texas went 1-for-2.
San Jose is 13-7-1-2 all time against Texas. They went 4-2-0-0 against the Stars last season.
The Three Stars of the Game were: 1) Karlstrom 2) Caamano 3) Gregor
UP NEXT: San Jose conclude their four-game homestand with another battle with Texas on Sunday 11/7 at 3:00pm at SAP Center.