On a night where the San Jose Barracuda were out-shot by a two-to-one margin, Barracuda goaltender Aaron Dell made 50-saves, 21 of which came in the second period, in leading the Barracuda to a 4-2 win over the Pacific Division leading Ontario Reign (AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings) at the SAP Center Wednesday night.
In addition to leading the Barracuda to a win, Dell's outstanding performance in net got him named the game's number one star, and also clinched AHL win number 637 for Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer, who surpassed Fred "Bun" Cook as the all-time wins leader in AHL history.
Scoring wise for the Barracuda, forward Ben Smith and defenseman Gus Young each had a two point night with a goal and an assist while forwards Barclay Goodrow and Bryan Lerg both scored first period power play goals.
Lerg put the Barracuda ahead 1-0 just 95-seconds into the game when he beat Reign goaltender Michael Houser (who was screened in front by Barracuda forward John McCarthy) with a snap shot from just inside the top of the right face-off circle for his 11th goal of the season. Barracuda defenseman Mirco Mueller and Smith had the assists on the goal, which was Lerg's 100th career AHL goal.
Young extended the lead to 2-0 at 5:59 with his third goal of the season off a cannon of a snap shot from the top of the center slot that beat Houser top shelf. Barracuda forwards Nikolay Goldobin and McCarthy were credited with the assists on the goal, which was set up by Young keeping the puck in the Reign zone at the blue line near the right point and making a sweet right-to-left deke around Reign forward Ryan Horvat.
The Reign cut the lead in half just one minute later when forward Jonny Brodzinski fired a rebound past Dell from on top of the crease after Dell had made the initial save on a center point slap shot by Reign defenseman Vincent LoVerde.
Goodrow regained the Barracuda's two goal lead at 14:26 with a rebound score from just in front of the left face-off circle for his team leading 15th goal of the season. Barracuda defenseman Karl Stollery, who took the initial shot on goal with a slap shot from the left point, and Young picked up the assists on the goal, which held up as the game-winner.
After being edged out in shots on goal in the first period by a 15-14 margin, the Barracuda were out-shot by a three-to-one margin (21-7) in the second period, and were assessed three minor penalties inside the opening five-and-a-half minutes but Dell kept the Reign offense off the scoreboard.
On the Reign's first power play of the middle frame, Smith skated down a lose puck in the neutral zone and beat Houser on a breakaway for a shorthanded goal, his third goal of the season, at 1:22 to give the Barracuda a 4-1 lead.
In the third period, the Reign out-shot the Barracuda 16-5 but only got one more puck passed Dell, which came at 1:49 when forward Justin Auger jammed a puck past Dell after Dell made the initial save on a right point shot by Reign defenseman Kurtis MacDermid off a face-off win in the Barracuda zone.
NOTES... Shots on goal were 52-26 in favor of the Reign... The Barracuda went 2-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill... Dell is now 8-9-5 with a 2.51 goals-against-average and .920 save percentage... Barracuda defenseman Patrick McNally had a team high five shots on goal... The Barracuda have successfully killed off 54 of their last 60 penalties since Jan. 3... Smith's shorthanded goal was the Barracuda's third shorthanded goal this season... Cook held the AHL record for most wins for more than 72-years as he had sat atop of the list since achieving his 153rd win on Nov. 13, 1943... The Barracuda improved to 11-9-2 at SAP Center and 20-16-8 with 48 points overall... The Barracuda are back in action Saturday afternoon (Feb. 13) when the host the San Antonio Rampage on Pink in the Rink day with puck drop scheduled for 1:15 p.m/pt.
1. Aaron Dell - Barracuda (50 saves, WIN)
2. Ben Smith - Barracuda (1-1-2)
3. Gus Young - Barracuda (1-1-2)
Torres / Carpenter / Goodrow
Lerg (C) / Langlois / Parkes
Goldobin / McCarthy (A) / Smith
Haley (A) / Timmins / Jevpalovs
*In order of appearance*
Mueller / Young
McNally / Ryan
Stollery / Bergman