SAN DIEGO – The San Jose Barracuda (6-3) took a 3-1 series lead over the San Diego Gulls (4-5) in the Pacific Division Finals with a 4-3 win tonight at Valley View Casino Center in front of 10,617 fans. San Jose held two three-goals leads, but the Gulls pushed back with two goals in the third period but couldn’t overcome an early deficit in their third straight loss of the series.
Special teams played a pivotal role in the eventual outcome with San Jose scoring three power-play goals on their four opportunities, while San Diego’s man advantage went 1-for-5.
The first period was a tale of power plays as the Gulls couldn’t convert on any of their first three man advantages, and had two of their power plays canceled out due to penalties of their own. San Jose on the other hand converted on their only two changes of the period to take a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
San Jose right wing Barclay Goodrow opened the scoring at 12:44 of the first period with a power-play goal when Ryan Carpenter put the puck in Goodrow’s path on the left wing and his snap shot trickled through the pads of Gulls goaltender Jhonas Enroth.
Ryan Carpenter doubled the Barracuda lead with their second power-play goal of the game, his seventh goal of the postseason, collecting a shot blocked in front of the net that redirected into his path at the side of the net and slammed it home.
At 11:30 of the second period, Colin Blackwell scored his second goal of the postseason to extend San Jose’s lead to 3-0. Jacob Milleton’s shot hit a body in front of the net and fell to Blackwell and he quickly lifted the puck high over the blocker of Enroth.
Only 1:59 later Mitch Hults, appearing in his first career Calder Cup Playoffs contest, tipped a Sam Carrick pass through the legs of Grosenick to close the deficit to 3-1. Carrick entered the offensive zone and backhanded high pass through two Barracuda defenseman and a deft deflection was all Hults needed to give the Gulls life.
San Jose regained their three-goal lead at 15:58 of the period with their third power-play goal of the game when Tim Heed’s point shot found its way through traffic to make it a 4-1 contest.
At the start of the third period, Dustin Tokarski replaced Enroth in net, with the Swedish goaltender having stopped 15-of-19 shots in the first two periods. In 17:14 of action in relief, Tokarski stopped all seven shots faced and gave the Gulls a chance to mount a comeback to force overtime.
San Diego’s first goal of the second period came when the Gulls finally converted on the power play as Nic Kerdiles deflected Nate Guenin’s slap pass from the point to beat Grosenick. The goal cut the deficit to two again, 4-2, at 3:35 of the third period and snapped a stretch that saw the Gulls go 0-for-13 with the man advantage.
Tokarski pulled in favor of the extra attacker with 2:46 remaining in regulation and the Gulls continued to create scoring chances to cut the lead to one. Sam Carrick got that goal with 17 second on the clock for his third of the series and fourth of the playoffs. Carrick, who was reassigned to San Diego by the Anaheim Ducks just prior to the game, registered his first multi-point game of the postseason.
San Jose killed the final 17 seconds of the game and pushes San Diego to the brink of elimination tomorrow night in a must-win Game 5 for the Gulls. The Gulls have faced elimination on one previous occasion this postseason, winning the deciding Game 5 in the first round vs. the Ontario Reign.
The series continues tomorrow night with Game 5 at Valley View Casino Center at 7 p.m. A limited number of tickets are available by visiting AXS.com/Gulls or by phone at (619) 359-4730.
Notes: Barclay Goodrow recorded 1-2=3 points for San Jose, while Ryan Carpenter (1-1=2) and Joakim Ryan (0-2=2) each earned multi-point games…Stu Bickel recorded his second career postseason assist on Hults’ second period goal…Alex Dostie made his professional debut after completing his junior season with the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and signing an amateur tryout agreement (ATO) on Monday, May 8.