Nic Dowd scored the game-winning goal 28 seconds into overtime to help the Ontario Reign (23-10-3-1) rally past the San Jose Barracuda (18-11-5-3), 3-2, on Friday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
With the goal, Dowd extended his point streak to five games (5-1=6).
“Obviously, we’re always happy for a win, but at the same time, we understand we need to play better those first two periods,” said Vincent LoVerde. “It was a good character win. We were able to regroup in the third and come back and it felt good. We got another game tomorrow and we’ll be back to win that one.”
Karl Stollery put the Barracuda up, 1-0, with a power play goal at 5:31 of the first period after Adrian Kempe was given a major penalty for boarding. Nikolay Goldobin sent the puck down low to Stollery who fired it into the net with seven seconds left on the power play.
San Jose extended their lead at 14:00 of the same frame when forward Jeremy Langlois set up forward Trevor Parkes for his eighth goal of the season. Forward Bryan Lerg picked up the secondary assist.
In the second stanza, the Reign’s closest opportunity came when Scott Timmins was given a four-minute penalty for interference and unsportsmanlike conduct. Less than two minutes later, Michael Haley joined him for roughing to make it 5-on-3 hockey. Dowd fired a shot from the left circle and it was initially called a goal, but was turned away upon review.
Building off momentum from the middle frame, Ontario came out strong and got on the board at 1:33 of the third period. Valentin Zykov found an open LoVerde who buried the puck past netminder Aaron Dell (31 saves).
“[Zykov] made a good pass from the corner out to me and I was just looking to try to get it through. The puck had eyes and found its way in,” said LoVerde on his fifth marker of the season.
Ontario outshot San Jose, 7-3, midway into the third period. Searching for the equalizer, Jordan Samuels-Thomas came close with a couple of chances, the most notable on the penalty kill when he tried to bang a shot in, but Dell held tight and denied the forward his eighth tally of the season.
At 18:28, netminder Peter Budaj (20 saves) came out of the net on the power play as Kempe sent a pass through traffic to forward Sean Backman who one-timed it into net to tie the game.
The game remained at two apiece until 0:28 of overtime as LoVerde connected with Dowd for the game-winning marker.
“As soon as I got the puck, my initial thought was to slide it over to Mersch and then as soon as I crossed the blue line I knew I had to shoot the puck,” said Dowd. “I think that [Mersch], and I and [Backman] have been playing really well together. I think that a lot of the kudos go to those two for making plays all around the ice.”