SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Barracuda, backstopped by Aaron Dell, evened up their best-of-five against the Ontario Reign with a 3-2 triumph.
Dell slammed the door on multiple in-tight chances during four mostly dangerous Ontario power plays, finishing with 34 saves. In contrast, his counterpart Peter Budaj was tested by just one San Jose man advantage and 15 shots.
But let's not blame Budaj for glaring defensive errors from the usually rigid Reign. Case in point, Nikolay Goldobin's eventual game-winner, halfway into the third. Kris Newbury and Kurtis MacDermid both lost Jeremy Langlois entering the zone, and he found Goldobin blowing by Vincent LoVerde for the wide-open tap-in.
That was not LoVerde's only significant miscue. Early in the second, he opted to block a long Joakim Ryan shot instead of tying up Ryan Carpenter's stick, which tipped home the goal. An errant MacDermid breakout gave the puck to Ryan in the first place.
But Ontario will look further than the normally stout MacDermid-LoVerde pairing when they fast forward the tape. They'll pause at Derek Forbort and Bryan Lerg battling at the blueline, and Forbort apparently losing track of the puck. This hesitation offered Lerg, who possessed it, an open lane to Budaj for another score.
These mistakes tripped up a vigorous Reign third period comeback. MacDermid scored, then Jonny Brodzinski made things interesting when he blasted in a one-timer with 35 seconds left. The pair account for all of their team's goals in this series so far.
And while Ontario pelted San Jose with shot after shot, the Barracuda held serve at even strength, actually managing an 8-7 scoring chances edge.
The series shifts now to Ontario for good. San Jose seeks to turn around a 0-4-2-0 regular season record at the Vault, starting this Thursday.