Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
by Marko Ukalovic
The Stockton Heat made the most of the last 20 minutes of the game. They scored four unanswered goals in the third period to defeat the San Jose Barracuda 4-1 on Sunday evening at Stockton Arena. The win snapped a pair of seven-game losing streaks. One against San Jose and the other on home ice.
San Jose (29-14-2-4) drew first blood in the first period. With Stockton on a power play, Alex True picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated in on a breakaway down the right win and fired a shot past Heat goalie Jon Gillies (10-14-4) for a short-handed goal and his team-leading 18th goal of the season at the 7:45 mark. It was the third short-handed goal of the season for the Cuda and the 15th given up by Stockton, the most in the AHL.
Looking to regain the momentum for Stockton (22-25-4-1), forward Scott Sabourin dropped the gloves with Jeffery Viel seven seconds on the next shift after True’s goal.
Cuda goalie Antoine Bibeau (11-9-5) stopped all 10 shots he faced in the opening frame. The Cuda were also able to kill off two Stockton power plays.
In the second period, San Jose controlled play throughout the 20 minutes of the middle frame. They outshot Stockton 16-11 as Bibeau looked sharp between the pipes, not letting in any of the 11 Heat shots past him. However, they weren’t able to cash in on a four-minute power play to extend their lead.
Stockton received the equalizer on a short-handed goal in the third period. Rinat Valiev fed a pass over to Ryan Lomberg, who buried the puck past Bibeau for his seventh goal of the season at the 8:53 mark. It was Lomberg’s third short-handed goal on the season and Stockton’s 11th overall. Glenn Gawdin received the secondary assist.
Juuso Valimaki fired a shot off from the point that Kirby Rychel redirected past Bibeau on the power play for his team-leading 21st goal of the season at the 13:57 mark. Dillion Dube received the secondary assist.
Lomberg scored his second goal of the night on breakaway empty-net goal at the 18:16 mark. Then, the scoring was concluded on another empty-net goal by Stockton’s Spencer Foo as he scored his 14th goal of the season at the 19:28 mark.
Gillies had an excellent third period in keeping the Cuda off the board. He finished with 36 saves on 37 shots to earn his 10th victory. Bibeau made 30 saves on 32 shots in suffering the tough luck loss.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0/5 on the power play. Stockton was 1/4.
The announced attendance was 3,217.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda return back home to host the Iowa Wild on Tuesday 2/26 at 7:00 pm at SAP Center.