The San Jose Barracuda find themselves in the same position after one game in the Western Conference Finals that they were in after the first game of the second round: trailing 1-0, and no longer in control of home ice. The Barracuda evened that series with a big win in Game 2, and will look to do the same tonight at the SAP Center against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
San Jose has shown remarkable resilience this postseason. They’ve not yet lost consecutive games in the playoffs, and won four consecutive games after losing the Pacific Division Finals’ first game just over two weeks ago.
They can rely on that experience, but that alone will not win the series, especially against the best team they’ve played all postseason. Last night was the first time the Barracuda had been outshot in a loss, and the Griffins have now won their last four games, as well as eight of their nine playoff games.
Grand Rapids contained San Jose’s potent offense, and held the Barracuda to just 11 shots in Game 1’s first two periods. AHL-leading scorer Ryan Carpenter managed just two shots on goal, and Timo Meier, who led the Barracuda in shots on goal entering Game 1, was held to a single shot on goal.
Baz Bastien winner Troy Grosenick allowed three goals on 28 shots, the seventh time in 11 games he’s allowed three or more goals. But, the Barracuda did not give him much defensive support, especially on the game’s first goal when Danny O’Regan failed to tie up Mitch Callahan’s tap-in.
This series is the toughest the Barracuda have had all postseason, and a win tonight in Game 2 is of paramount importance if San Jose is to advance to the first Calder Cup in the Sharks AHL affiliate history. Otherwise, the wait for the first professional hockey championship in San Jose may last another year.