The Barracuda (6-6-4) dropped back-to-back road games against the AHL’s top team, the Henderson Silver Knights (13-2-0-0) Saturday and Sunday.
Henderson opened the scoring just a minute into Saturday’s game. Letunov tied the game four minutes later for his second goal of the year, assisted by Ivan Chekhovich and Nicolas Meloche. Then, Alexander True jammed in his fifth goal of the season in the final second of the first period for a 2-1 lead.
Alexander True buzzer-beater pic.twitter.com/IqA9wYS27G
— Brian Truong (@_BrianTruong) March 20, 2021
From there, the Barracuda were held scoreless for the rest of the weekend. Henderson added four more goals for the 5-2 win Saturday.
Alexei Melnichuk suffered a lower-body injury in the second period, and was replaced by Zachary Sawchenko at the start of the third period. Melnichuk’s status is day-to-day and he won’t be playing Wednesday, according to Sommer. Sommer hopes to have Melnichuk back next week.
Potential clips of Melnichuk's injury. Looked a bit awkward after a save, then took a shot to the head it looks like. He finished the period and Sawchenko started the third. https://t.co/knfQTxAVO4 pic.twitter.com/Rjhbfkyhvl
— Brian Truong (@_BrianTruong) March 21, 2021
Rookie defenseman Ryan Merkley was also kept out of Sunday’s game due to an injury.
“[Merkley] had an aggravated wrist, we just thought it would be best to let it settle down for a little bit … it’s been bugging him for a while,” Sommer said. Merkley is expected to return this Wednesday.
Despite outshooting their opponents in every period, the Barracuda suffered their second shutout loss of the season Sunday. Former San Jose Sharks prospect Danny O’Regan recorded three points for Henderson through the weekend.
In his season debut Saturday, Sawchenko stopped eight of nine shots he faced. On Sunday, his first start since Mar. 6, 2020, Sawchenko stopped 17 of 20 shots on goal.
The Barracuda play on the road against the Bakersfield Condors (10-6-0-1) Wednesday evening.
Chekhovich Re-Discovers His Confidence
It didn’t take long for Ivan Chekhovich to make an impact in his return to the Barracuda. Just five minutes into the first period of Saturday’s game, Chekhovich whipped a pass from behind the goal line to set up Maxim Letunov’s game-tying goal.
“Before even getting the puck, I knew where [Letunov] was going to be,” Chekhovich said in an interview Monday, with Letunov translating his answers from Russian to English. “We talked before the game a lot on what we can do in the offensive zone and which spots we’re going to be at.”
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