Roadrunners best Barracuda to earn first playoff win in franchise history, series lead
By: Alex Kinkopf
April 19, 2018 9:44 PM
They found a way, again.
The Roadrunners dealt the deciding blow late Thursday night in what proved to be the team’s first-ever playoff win, a 4-2 victory over the San Jose Barracuda at the SAP Center.
Tucson, which saw 10 of its players find the score sheet, has claimed a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Adin Hill matched a season-high mark with 36 saves to keep the Barracuda at bay throughout the evening.
“We knew [San Jose] was going to have a strong game with a push,” Hill said afterward. “It was a good game, we battled hard, it was a good playoff game with a lot of hits, and we came out on top, and that’s what you need to do at the end of the day.”
Just over 11 minutes into the first period, Dakota Mermis beat Antoine Bibeau high to the glove side with a snap-shot from the right circle, burying the first playoff goal in franchise history to give the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead.
After being turned away on their first 25 shots of the game, the Barracuda finally got a puck past Hill, San Jose’s Alexander True tying the game 1-1 with 10:27 to play in the second period.
Ryan MacInnis responded a mere 23 seconds later, driving hard into San Jose’s zone wide to the right, muscling to the net, and tucking a puck past Bibeau to give the Roadrunners a 2-1 lead with 10:04 remaining in the middle frame.
The Barracuda tied the game 2-2 just over five minutes into the third when a puck ricochet off of Alex Chmelesvski and into the net.
The score tied with under two minutes left in regulation, Lane Pederson joined a rush, received a drop pass from Michael Bunting, and beat Bibeau through the five-hole with 1:15 left on the clock.
Pederson’s goal, the first of his playoff career, proved to be the game-winner.
“It’s always great to contribute and help your team win any way you can, but it doesn’t matter who gets it,” he said. “I’m just glad we got the two points tonight. We’ll move forward and get ready to go again on Saturday.”
Dylan Strome added an empty-net goal with 13 seconds left to put the game on ice.
“I thought we were better in the third period, that’s when we got going again,” Head Coach Mike Van Ryn noted. “We juggled our lines up and I think we might have found a bit of chemistry there, so that was encouraging. Hill played great and gave us a chance. We found a way again, and that’s great, we’re going to have to.”
The teams will meet for game two of this best-of-five Pacific Division semi-final series on Saturday night at the SAP Center, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:00 PM.