San Jose Barracuda forward Ben Smith scored the go-ahead goal at 18:43 of the third period, which held up as the game-winning-goal, as the Barracuda rallied from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to defeat the Bakersfield Condors (AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers) 4-3 at the Rabobank Arena Friday night.
The Barracuda, who with the win tied the San Diego Gulls for the third (and final) guaranteed playoff spot in the AHL Pacific Division with 19-games to go in the regular season, got goals from forwards Ryan Carpenter (who also dished out an assist), John McCarthy and Micheal Haley. Between the pipes, Barracuda goaltender Aaron Dell made 21-saves for his 11th win of the season.
In a first period that saw the Barracuda get out-shot 12-9, the Condors scored twice in a near seven minute span to take an early 2-0 lead as forward Ryan Pitlick beat Dell through the wickets with a quick shot from inside the left circle for his fifth goal of the season at 7:28, which was followed by defenseman Dillon Simpson's second goal of the season at 14:03 off a slap shot from the blue line of the left point that went in off the post.
Carpenter got the Barracuda on the scoreboard at 18:27 when he buried home a loose puck from on top of the crease for a power play goal, his 12th goal of the season. Barracuda forward Barclay Goodrow and defenseman Karl Stollery, who took the initial shot on goal from the center point, had the assists.
McCarthy pulled the Barracuda even at 7:51 of the second period with a deflection from inside the right circle of defenseman Joakim Ryan's slap shot from the right point for his ninth goal of the season, Barracuda captain Bryan Lerg had the second assist on the goal, which extended McCarthy's point streak to six games.
The game didn't stay tied for long as the Condors regained the lead at 12:42 when forward Rob Klinkhammer beat Dell top shelf with a one-timer from just in front of the left hash mark for his 10th goal of the season, which was set up by a keep in at the center point by defenseman Griffin Reinhart on Carpenter's zone clear attempt.
Haley answered back for the Barracuda at 14:55 with his 13th goal of the season off a one-timer snap shot from the top of the left slot (set-up by a right circle cross zone pass from Carpenter) that deflected in off the shoulder of Condors goaltender Eetu Laurikainen, who was being screened in front by Barracuda forward Trevor Parkes.
In the third period, the Barracuda out-shot the Condors 12-5 but couldn't get the puck past Laurikainen until Smith lifted in a backhanded shot from on top of the crease after the puck landed on his hockey stick following Laurikainen's point blank save on Lerg. McCarthy had the secondary assist on the goal, which was set-up by Smith's relentless pressuring of the puck deep inside the Condors zone that resulted in two crucial turnovers.
NOTES... Shots on goal were 34-24 in favor of the Barracuda... The Barracuda went 1-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill... Dell is now 11-10-5 with a 2.39 goals-against-average and .923 save percentage... McCarthy has eight points (4-4-8) during his six game point streak... The Barracuda improved to 11-7-7 on the road and 23-17-9 with 55 points overall... The Barracuda are back in action Saturday night (Feb. 27) as they travel to play the Gulls with puck drop scheduled for 7:05 p.m/pt.
1. Ben Smith - Barracuda (1-0-1, GWG)
2. Dillon Simpson - Condors (1-1-2)
3. Ryan Carpenter - Barracuda (1-1-2)
*In order of appearance*
Haley (A) / Carpenter / Parkes
Lerg (C) / McCarthy (A) / Smith
Goldobin / Langlois / Goodrow
Emanuelsson / Doremus / Jevpalovs
Young / Ryan
Stollery / Bergman
Mueller / Cundari