Cuda Corner: Balcers takes control as the ‘Cuda tie the series

Reports of Roy’s boys quitting have been heavily exaggerated.

I’m not trying to jinx it here, but don’t call it a comeback.

On a delightfully warm Saturday night at the SAP Center, the San Jose Barracuda were set to play the Tucson Roadrunners in a game that the boys in teal absolutely had to win in order to regain momentum going in to a potential three-game road trip down to Tucson.

The same goalies were set to go from Thursday: Adin Hill for the Roadrunners, Antoine Bibeau for the Barracuda.

Ivan Chekhovich celebrated his new contract with the Sharks organization by combining with Rudolfs Balcers for the first goal of the game for the Barracuda, not even a minute into the first period. Chekhovich took control of the puck behind the net and passed it to a spinning Balcers, shooting it past the right side of Adin Hill for the 1-0 lead.

In what has been a pattern this series, the 1-0 lead did not last long, as Dylan Strome pulled out his bag of tricks to give the Roadrunners two quick goals. Strome’s first came off a bad turnover from Nick DeSimone in which Strome whirled with the puck down the right side, got around Jacob Middleton, and fired on Antoine Bibeau glove-side to tie it.

Strome’s second goal came almost two minutes later. A quick pass from Mario Kempe found Strome’s stick, and evaded the stick of Jake Middleton to put it past Bibeau glove-side for the Roadrunners’ first lead of the night.

You’re telling me he only played 21 games with the Coyotes?

It’s easy to see that the see-saw battle from Thursday carried into last night. On the power play, after a mad scramble in front of the net, Adam Helewka, who was almost taken out of the play due to the loss of his stick, regained it and and shot a nifty backhander into an open net to tie the game once more.

Four minutes later, another flurry of Barracuda chances resulted in a goal — this time from Rourke Chartier. A shot from the point from Tim Heed was stopped by an outstretched Hill, but after an opportunity from Rudolfs Balcers, Chartier poked it through for the lead.

There was a noticeable trade-off of physicality and shot opportunities in the second period. The only goal came off the stick of Mario Kempe. Carter Camper made a backhand pass to Kempe, and despite Bibeau’s attempt of robbery, the game was tied.

The Barracuda penalty kill did their job and then some, shutting down all three Tucson power plays in the second period.

Rudolfs Balcers continued his hot night in the third period. A board battle found the stick of Balcers, who passed it to Chartier. Chartier’s shot attempt rebounded and Balcers shot it in for his third point of the night.

With four minutes to go in the third with Lane Pederson coming in, Sasha Chmelevski attempted a desperation shot that tipped off Manuel Wiederer’s stick and found the net to put the ‘Cuda up 5-3.

Rourke Chartier iced the game with an empty net goal, his second of the night, for a huge Barracuda win.

The ‘Cuda and Roadrunners will get a nice break, they won’t play each other until Wednesday night at the Tucson Convention Center. Puck drop is at 7:05 PM PST.