Nikolay Goldobin scored twice and the San Jose Barracuda beat Grand Rapids 4-2 on Friday despite being wildly outshot. That brings the Russian forward to nine goals on the season and helps the Barracuda to four points back of the Ontario Reign with a game in hand in the Pacific.
Goldobin is back up to more than 0.8 points per game (0.81 to be precise) this season after going on a bit of a slump. Getting some reinforcements to the ‘Cuda (21-11-1-3) certainly helped the Russian. His two goals came with assists from Danny O’Regan, Tim Heed, Marcus Sorensen and Jacob Middleton.
The forward hasn’t found the back of the net as consistently this season as last, but his playmaking has improved. Goldobin is three assists away from matching his assist total from last season (23) in 24 fewer games. His primary skill is scoring goals, but it’s nice to see him develop in other areas ... though my guess is his rising assist totals have more to do with the increased quality of his teammates.
Lest you think Goldobin isn’t playing aggressively enough, the Russian is shooting the puck at a higher rate despite playing with more offensively gifted players this time around. He’s averaging 2.08 shots per game this season after averaging 1.98 last season. It’s not much of an improvement, but he hasn’t taken a step back, either.
Barclay Goodrow and Julius Bergman each potted goals to round out the scoring for San Jose. The star of the show was goaltender Troy Grosenick, who made 43 saves to keep the Barracuda alive. That brings Grosenick’s save percentage up to a .929 save percentage. That’s the top save percentage of any active goaltender in the AHL.
Timo Meier played for the Barracuda and registered three shots on goal. Kevin Labanc was reassigned to the ‘Cuda but did not play and may not have traveled with the team. The Sharks’ next game is on Tuesday in San Jose and I expect both Labanc and Meier will be back with the squad by then.
The Barracuda take on Milwaukee on Saturday to close out the first half of its season. The Barracuda stay on the road after the All-Star break and battle the Manitoba Moose on Feb. 3 and 4.