SAN JOSE, CA – It was a wild one at the SAP Center Sunday evening, but the Heat come out of there with the series all tied up.
The series is tied at 1 game each as the series shifts to Stockton for games three and four.
“It was a strange game, but we needed the win. It wasn’t do-or-die yet for us, but that was an important game for us to try and get the split. We found a way,” said Heat head coach Ryan Huska. “I can say I was really proud of a lot of our players in regards to the shot blocks tonight. We had some guys that sacrificed a lot tonight. It was a big win for us.”
Just 90 seconds into the game, Mark Jankowski dangled around the Barracuda defense to give the Heat their first goal of the postseason and Mark Jankowski’s first ever Heat playoff goal. 12:22 into the first Austin Carroll scored on a beautiful feed from Mikkel Aagaard to put the Heat up 2-0. About four minutes later Linden Vey snipes a power play goal to put the Heat up 3-0. Less than a minute later, Brett Kulak sends Garnet Hathaway on a partial breakaway to put the Heat up 4-0 (matching a season high for most goals in a period). Shots were 15-9 in favor of the Barracuda after 20 minutes of play.
6:12 into the middle frame, Joakim Ryan scores, a tough one for Gillies to give up after having such a good first period. A little over a minutes later John McCarthy fires a shots that just trickles in, another tough goal for Gillies to give up. Just three and a half minutes later, Ryan scored his second of the night, making it a 4-3 game and chasing Jon Gillies out of the net, replaced by David Rittich.
In coming relief of Gillies, Rittich made some incredible saves to keep it a 4-3 game, and it paid off because, with a little over two minutes left in the second, Hunter Shinkaruk scores a sneaky shot far post and in to get the Heat up by two goals again.
Rittich was phenomenal in this game, making big save after big save, but he could not stop a Buddy Robinson break away. With 3:41 left in regulation, Robinson scored a short handed goal to make things 5-4. But solid goaltending and good defensive play from the Heat allowed them to hold the lead until Vey potted an empty netter, 6-4 the final.
After a dominant first period despite getting out shot for the Heat, they return home tied 1-1 in the series. I would expect Rittich to get the start for game three because of how he came in relief and just shut the door on the Barracuda’s comeback attempt. Both penalty kills were very good and both teams played very fast.
Players to watch out for in game three:
Ryan Carpenter: Ryan Carpenter picked up another three assists, he continues to kill the Heat so far in the series. The Heat need to watch out for him and not give him too much time and space.
Mark Jankowski: For the Barracuda, they need to watch out for Mark Jankowski. Game two was arguably one of his best game for the Heat this season, and when he gets on a roll it is hard to slow him down.
1- Mark Jankowski (1 goal, 2 assists)
2- Joakim Ryan (2 goals)
3- Garnet Hathaway (1 goal, 1 assist)
Shots: San Jose 32 – Stockton 20
Power Plays: San Jose 1/7 – Stockton 1/6
Mark Jankowski (1 goal, 2 assists) now has five goals and four assists in games that follow Heat shutout losses in the regular season and postseason this year.
“It was definitely a little crazy. It was probably crazier than we would have hoped. There’s definitely some things that we can take from that to improve on. There’s some things we have to clean up a little bit, but overall, we got the win and that’s all that matters. Obviously, going down two in a five-game series is huge. For us to get the win and split at their ice and go back to Stockton, that’s a big game for us.” – Mark Jankowski on the win in San Jose
Game 3 will be held at Stockton Arena, April 28 at 7:00 PT.