San Jose, Ca - After splitting a two-game series with Tucson, the San Jose Barracuda (18-5-1-3) returned to action Thursday for a matinee affair with the Colorado Eagles (15-10-3-1) (Colorado Avalanche) at SAP Center at San Jose. Thursday was the first game back for both teams after the AHL's mandated holiday break. Thursday's meeting pinned the first and third placed teams in the division against one another and after surrendering the first goal of the game, the Barracuda scored three unanswered tallies and rolled to a 3-1 victory. With this win the Barracuda secured the top spot in the AHL's Pacific Division for the mid season all-star game, and head coach Roy Sommer earned the right to coach the Pacific Division all-star team in Springfield, MA in late January.
This contest was the first between the teams at SAP Center since San Jose blanked Colorado, 5-0, November 18th. The Eagles started off the scoring with a gorgeous passing play that gave them a 1-0 lead with 9:03 remaining in the first period. Michael Joly drove the puck down the right wing before dropping it to Dominic Toninato (4) who took the pass in the slot and fired a wrist shot top corner, over the glove hand of 'Cuda goaltender Josef Korenar. Korenar and Eagle's netminder Pavel Francouz sit among the top three among AHL goaltenders in terms of save percentage and wins. The first period reflected that theme, as seventeen combined shots resulted in one goal, and a 1-0 lead for Colorado as the second period started.
Just before the halfway point of the second period the Barracuda would even the score. Francis Perron (13) scored his team leading thirteenth goal and team leading sixth power play goal at the 10:44 mark of the second period. Perron took a drop pass from John McCarthy near the point and skated to the right faceoff dot where he used a screen from McCarthy and a deflection off of an Eagles defenseman. The Barracuda gained the lead only two minutes later at the 8:34 mark in the second period when Kyle Wood (2) took a cross-ice pass from Max Letunov and snapped it top shelf to give the 'Cuda a 2-1 lead. San Jose held that lead and entered the third period nursing a one-goal advantage.
The Barracuda would double their lead with 8:33 remaining in the third with their second power play goal of the afternoon. Max Letunov (6) fed the puck to Alex True right in front of the net. True had the puck poked off of his stick, right back to Letunov. Letunov took the loose puck, maneuvered between the faceoff dots and unleashed a wrister that beat Francouz over his blocker to give the 'Cuda a 3-1 lead. With their 3-1 lead intact, the San Jose hunkered down, and bled the clock all the way down to zero.
The Barracuda ended up outshooting the Eagles 32-15 and utilized their two power play goals to outscore them 3-1. With this win the Barracuda extend their Pacific Division lead to six points and improve to 2-0-1-1 against Colorado on the season.
The win for Korenar (12-1-1) was his sixth straight.
Next up for the Barracuda is a Sunday game at SAP Center against the San Diego Gulls, puck drop at 5PM. Coverage for that game can be found live on 1220 AM KDOW or the Sharks App.