Looking to sweep their three game home stand before embarking on a four game road trip, the San Jose Barracuda got two goals from forward Ben Smith inside the final eight minutes of the game but it wasn't enough to make up for the Barracuda's sluggish opening 52-minutes in a 4-2 loss to the Bakersfield Condors (AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers) at the SAP Center Sunday afternoon.
The Barracuda, who were leapfrogged by the Condors in the standings for the final guaranteed playoff spot in the Pacific Division with the loss, got 22-saves in net from goaltender Aaron Dell, who made his third consecutive start and has made 131 saves on 137 shots on goal in his last four starts.
In a first period that saw both teams fire 11 shots on goal, the Condors scored the lone goal when forward Andrew Miller fired a rebound from in the slot past Dell for his 12th goal of the season at 15:55.
After a scoreless second period that saw a combined 11 shots on goal (four by the Barracuda), the Condors extended their lead to 2-0 at 7:06 of the third period when forward Jujhar Khaira finished off a two-on-one rush with Miller for his eighth goal of the season.
Smith extended his goal streak to four games and cut the Condors lead in half at 12:05 with his sixth goal of the season off a tap in at the right side of the crease after linemate John McCarthy's backhanded wrap around shot attempt on the left side slid through the crease in front of Condors goaltender Anders Nilsson.
Just as it appeared the Barracuda were poised to get the tying goal, the Condors regained their two goal lead at 16:20 when forward Ryan Hamilton got a stride on Barracuda defenseman Mirco Mueller in the neutral zone and shuffled a backhanded shot through the wickets of Dell to finish off an odd man rush for his 15th goal of the season.
With Dell pulled for the extra attacker inside the final 90-seconds of the game, Smith scored his second goal of the game at 18:50 off snap shot from inside the right face-off circle after a nice give-and-go with Barracuda forward Bryan Lerg. However, the Barracuda couldn't get the tying goal in the ensuing 70-seconds as Condors forward Rob Klinkhammer tapped a dribbling puck into an empty net for his eighth goal of the season to seal a 4-2 Condors win.
NOTES... Shots on goal were 26-23 in favor of the Condors... The Barracuda went 0-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill... Dell is now 9-10-5 with a 2.43 goals-against-average and .922 save percentage... McCarthy had a game high five shots on goal... Barracuda forward Nikolay Goldobin had the secondary assist on Smith's second goal of the game... Smith scored four goals in the Barracuda's two weekend games... Lerg (2-3-5), Smith (6-1-7) and Goldobin (0-4-4) all extended their point streak to four games... The Barracuda are 12-10-2 at the SAP Center and 21-17-8 with 50 points overall... The Barracuda are back in action Feb. 20 when they travel to play the Stockton Heat with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m/pt.
1. Andrew Miller - Condors (1-1-2)
2. Ben Smith - Barracuda (2-0-2)
3. Jujhar Khaira - Condors (1-1-2)
Goodrow / Carpenter / Emanuelsson
Lerg (C) / Langlois / Parkes
Goldobin / McCarthy (A) / Smith
Haley (A) / Timmins / Jevpalovs
Young / Ryan
Stollery / Bergman
McNally / Mueller