SAN JOSE – During their impressive regular season in which they claimed the top seed in the Western Conference, the Barracuda relied heavily on their power play. More often than not, it got the job done.
That part of their game hit a snag in the playoffs, though, going just 2-for-26 through the first six games after posting a 23.8 percent success rate in the regular season – second in the AHL.
It’s coming back to life.
San Jose struck for two power play goals in three chances on Saturday night against San Diego, tying its second round series with the Gulls at one game apiece in a 5-1 win. Five different players scored for San Jose, including power play markers by Ryan Carpenter and Adam Helewka.
“We’re just getting good chances, and I feel like the pucks are going in for us,” Carpenter said.
San Jose jumped out to a 3-0 lead and was never really in danger after dropping the series opener at home on Friday in overtime.
Timo Meier’s end-to-end rush helped generate the first score, when the former first round pick took the puck from behind his own net and weaved into the offensive zone. His backhand attempt was blocked, but DeSimone gathered it in before unleashing a slap shot that beat Jhonas Enroth to the far side at 4:31 of the first period.
DeSimone, a free agent signed out of Union College by the Sharks on March 30, has five points (1g, 4a) in seven playoff games. He looked comfortable – and especially mobile – in Game 2.
“He really gets around the ice nice,” coach Roy Sommer said. “He can really skate.”
The 22-year-old, who posted 19 points in 38 games with Union this season, seems to be adjusting well to the pro game.
“It’s definitely, I wouldn’t say easy, but it’s been a nice transition so far,” DeSimone said.
Carpenter increased the Barracuda to 2-0 at 7:13 on the power play, when his wrister got through Enroth on a shot that should have been stopped by the veteran goalie.
Carpenter, who added a third period assist, continues to lead the Barracuda in playoff scoring with 10 points (6g, 4a) in seven games.
Buddy Robinson’s second period goal at 1:10 bumped the lead to three, when he battled for a loose puck in the slot and managed to put it through. San Diego got on the board at 3:53 on a Sam Carrick goal, but Helewka answered that on the power play at 16:15 to give the Barracuda a 4-1 cushion at the second intermission.
Barclay Goodrow’s marker on a two-on-one with Carpenter just 40 seconds into the third period essentially put the game out of reach.
The series now shifts to San Diego for games three-through-five. The Gulls have won seven straight home games against the Barracuda, including all five meetings this season.
“They got home ice from us,” Sommer said. “We’ve got to go down there and win a couple games. It’s a tough building to play in. They play different down there than they play here. … Guys are ready. We’ll meet the challenge down there.”
Carpenter said: “Wherever we play, we’ve just got to stick to our game plan.”
Games six and seven, if necessary, would be back at SAP Center.