In every game, there's a moment that stands out as a turning point. On Friday night at SAP Center, that moment occurred midway through the first period when the San Jose Barracuda, who were down a goal, were on a 63-second 5-on-3 power play advantage.
From the bottom edge of the left circle, Barracuda defenseman Dylan DeMelo threaded an across the crease pass through the legs of a defender to forward Nikolay Goldobin, whose one-timer from the right side appeared to be the equalizer the Barracuda were looking for. That was until San Diego Gulls (AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks) goaltender John Gibson slid from post-to-post and made a world class split-legged glove save that robbed Goldobin of a goal and left him (and everyone watching) in disbelief.
Gibson went on to make 23-saves in leading the Gulls to their second win in three nights over the Barracuda, this time by a 3-0 score.
Goaltender Aaron Dell suffered his first lost of the season despite making 31-saves in net for the Barracuda, who were shutout for the first time in franchise history and remain winless at SAP Center this season (0-2-1),
All around, it was an off night for the Barracuda, who went 0-for-5 on the power play (0-for-7 in the two game homestand against the Gulls) and had a hard time putting back-to-back shifts together, especially in the second period when they were outshot 15-5.
The winning goal was scored at 5:02 of the first period when Gulls forward Chris Wagner corralled a clear attempt just in front of his own blue line, skated in all alone on Dell and fired a quick shot from in front of the hash marks in the slot that beat Dell top shelf glove side for his first goal of the season.
At 18:11, the Gulls lead was extended to 2-0 when forward Chris Mueller swept the puck past the outstretched glove of Dell from in the right slot for his first goal of the season. Dell made the initial save on a shot from the left point by Gulls defenseman Jaycob Megna but Dell shuffled the rebound right to Mueller.
Though Dell stood on his head in the second period, the Gulls dashed any hopes the Barracuda had of a comeback when forward Nick Ritchie fired the puck past Dell from point blank range deep in the right faceoff circle for a power play goal, his fourth goal of the season, at 15:56 after the Gulls had hemmed the Barracuda in their own zone.
The Barracuda's best scoring chance to break Gibson's shutout bid came near the midway portion of the third period when on their fifth power play opportunity, Goldobin beat Gibson with a one-timer from in the slot but the puck rang off the post.
NOTES... Shots on goal were 34-23 in favor of the Gulls... The Barracuda went 2-for-3 on the penalty kill... Dell is now 2-1-0 with a 2.34 goals-against-average and .925 save percentage... Goldobin had a game high five shots on goal... Barracuda forward Vincent Arseneau played in his first game since opening night and had a heavyweight fight against Gulls defenseman Stu Bickel at 1:38 of the first period... Barracuda defenseman Karl Stollery was suspended one game by the AHL for an elbowing incident in Wednesday night's game against the Gulls... Earlier in the day, the San Jose Sharks loaned back forward Micheal Haley to the Barracuda... Haley had his three game point streak snapped... This was the second of 12 meetings between the Barracuda and Gulls this season... The Barracuda are 0-1-1 against the Gulls and 2-2-1 with five points overall... The Barracuda are back in action Saturday night (Oct. 24) as they travel to take on the Ontario Reign at 6pm/pt.
1. John Gibson - Gulls (23 saves, Shutout Win)
2. Chris Wagner - Gulls (1-1-2)
3. Brandon Montour - Gulls (0-2-2)
*in order of appearance*
Haley (A) / Carpenter / Emanuelsson
Goldobin / Timmins / Langlois
Karlsson / McCarthy (A) / Jevpalovs
Arseneau / Crane / Parkes
*in order of appearance*
Young / DeMelo
Cundari / Ryan
McNally / Bergman