After back-to-back road losses of 8-4 and 5-4 to the Texas Stars and Stockton Heat respectively in the past week, the San Jose Barracuda clinched the final playoff spot in the AHL Western Conference with a 6-0 shutout win over the Heat (AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames) at the SAP Center Sunday afternoon.
With the win, the Barracuda will host the top seeded Ontario Reign (AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings) on April 22 and 23 in the first two games of their best-of-five first round series (Pacific Division semifinals). During the regular season, the Barracuda went 3-6-3 against the Reign with all three wins coming at SAP Center.
One of the reasons the Barracuda's playoff showdown against the Reign became reality Sunday afternoon was the play in net from goaltender Aaron Dell, who bounced back after two shaky outings in the road losses with 41-saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
Scoring wise, Barracuda forwards Jeremy Morin (goal, two assists), Nikolay Goldobin (goal, two assists), and Jeremy Langlois (goal, assist) each had multi-point games while forward Trevor Parkes set a professional career high with his 18th goal of the season. In addition, forward Alex Gallant scored his first career AHL goal late in the third period.
The game's winning goal was scored at 5:11 of the first period when Barracuda forward Barclay Goodrow fired a turnaround snap shot from deep inside the right faceoff circle past Heat goaltender Nick Schneider for his 20th goal of the season, which was assisted by Barracuda defensemen Gus Young and Joakim Ryan.
Langlois extended the lead to 2-0 88-seconds later with his 12th goal of the season off a quick shot from on top of the crease after battling for the puck behind the net and working his way to the front of the net. Goldobin and Morin were credited with the assists.
In the second period, Parkes made it 3-0 at 12:54 when he softly redirected the puck into an open net to finish off an odd man rush with linemate (and Barracuda captain) Bryan Lerg, who fed Parkes a perfect centering feed from inside the left faceoff circle. The secondary assist went to their linemate John McCarthy.
Any thoughts the Heat had about a third period comeback were dampen when Goldobin scored his 21st goal of the season with 61-seconds left in the second period to make it 4-0. Langlois and Morin had the assists on the goal, which tied Goldobin with Lerg for the team lead.
Morin made it 5-0 at 3:40 of the third period with a breakaway goal on a delayed penalty call for his 16th goal of the season. Goldobin had the lone assist on the goal, which was Morin's fifth with the Barracuda.
With 32-seconds remaining in the game and a faceoff in the right circle of the Heat zone, Gallant had the puck come to him on the left side after a faceoff win by linemate Jordan Sims, and Gallant fired the puck past Schneider at 19:30 to punctuate a Barracuda win and clinched playoff spot.
NOTES... Shots on goal were 41-30 in favor of the Heat... The Barracuda went 0-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill... Dell finished the regular season 17-16-6 with a 2.42 goals-against-average and .922 save percentage... Langlois had a game high seven shots on goal and was plus-three along with Morin... McCarthy ended the season on a six game point streak (2-5-7) while Parkes ended on a three game point streak (3-2-5)... The 2015-16 Barracuda Player awards recipients were Ryan Carpenter (MVP, Man of the Year), Goldobin (Rookie of the Year), Ryan (UnSung Hero), and Dell (3 Stars Award)... The Barracuda finished the regular season 31-26-11 with 73 points overall... Game One between the Barracuda and Reign is scheduled for puck drop at 7:30 p.m./pt.
1. Aaron Dell - Barracuda (41-saves, Shutout Win)
2. Nikolay Goldobin - Barracuda (1-2-3)
3. Jeremy Morin - Barracuda (1-2-3)
*In order of appearance*
Goodrow / Carpenter / Jevpalovs
Lerg (C) / McCarthy (A) / Parkes
Goldobin / Langlois / Morin
Gallant / Sims / Martin
Young / Ryan
Stollery (A) / Bergman
Mueller / Tennyson