IRVINE, CA. – San Jose goaltender Josef Korenar made 32 saves on 33 shots, as the Barracuda defeated the Colorado Eagles, 5-1 in the final game of the Pacific Division play-in tournament on Wednesday. Eagles forward Sampo Ranta netted Colorado’s lone goal in the contest. San Jose forward Krystof Hrabik led the Barracuda with a pair of goals, while defenseman Nicholas Meloche notched a goal and two assists in the victory.
San Jose would earn the game’s first goal when forward Maxim Letunov capped off a 2-on-1 rush when he fielded a cross-slot pass and slammed the puck past Eagles goalie Justus Annunen to give the Barracuda a 1-0 edge at the 14:10 mark of the first period. Colorado would receive an opportunity on the power play late in the opening stanza but would fail to capitalize and the two teams would head to the dressing room with San Jose still on top, 1-0.
The Barracuda would stretch the advantage in the second period when forward Zach Gallant snapped a shot from the top of the left-wing circle that would light the lamp and give San Jose a 2-0 lead at the 9:25 mark of the middle frame.
Just 3:11 later the Barracuda would strike again when Hrabik snagged a rebound between the circles and fired the puck into the back of the net, giving San Jose a 3-0 lead.
The Eagles would finally strike back on a power play when forward Sampo Ranta settled a rebound at the top of the crease and lifted a shot over Korenar to trim San Jose’s advantage to 3-1 with 2:13 left to play in the second period.
Still trailing by a pair of goals to begin the final 20 minutes of play, Colorado would be faced with an early obstacle when forward Miikka Salomaki was hit with a five-minute major for boarding. The Eagles penalty kill would rise to the occasion, however, and Colorado would escape unscathed.
As the clock ticked inside the final three minutes of regulation, the Eagles would pull Annunen in favor of the extra attacker. However, it would be Hrabik and Meloche who would capitalize, with each netting an empty-netter to close out the contest.
Colorado was outshot in the game, 35-33 as the Eagles finished 1-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.