SAN DIEGO – The San Jose Barracuda (5-3) overcame three one-goal deficits to force sudden death overtime and Timo Meier scored the game-winning goal with 2:20 remaining for a 4-3 win over the San Diego Gulls (4-4) in front of 6,171 fans tonight at Valley View Casino. With the winning goal 77:40 into the contest, tonight marked the longest playoff game in Gulls history as San Jose took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
San Jose scored two third period goals, and Daniel O’Regan tied the game at 3-3 with 1:01 remaining in regulation with Barracuda goaltender Troy Grosenick (5-3) pulled in favor of an extra attacker to force overtime. Meier’s goal won the second overtime game of the series when he broke into the zone one-on-one thanks to a Buddy Ryan outlet pass, and deked through a Gulls defenseman and dragged the puck across the front of the goal and put it behind Jhonas Enroth (4-4) to seal the comeback win.
“That’s the game right now,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “You can work as hard as you want on your system stuff and how you play your game but some games are going to come down to bounces.”
Max Jones opened the scoring for San Diego with his first professional goal at 16:32 of the first period. Jones collected a rebound at the top of the crease and backhanded the puck into a gaping net after San Jose goaltender Troy Grosenick couldn’t handle a Jaycob Megna point shot. The goal by Jones, selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft, was his first as a Gull in his seventh postseason game after completing his junior season with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League to join the Gulls in the First Round of the playoffs.
San Diego’s lead only lasted 1:07 as San Jose’s Kevin Labanc corralled loose puck off Ryan Carpenter’s blocked shot and slid the puck into the net to tied the game at 1-1. Unlike the first two games of the series, San Diego opened the first period dominating play for long stretches, outshooting San Jose 11-3 in the period but settled for an even score, 1-1, at the first intermission.
The Gulls regained the lead at 12;36 of the second period when Sam Carrick skated off the half wall, had an open lane to the net, and snapped a shot over the glove of Grosenick for his third of season. Carrick, who was reassigned to San Diego by the Anaheim Ducks earlier in the day, has
Under two minutes after Carrick’s goal, Max Jones nearly made it a two-goal game after sneaking behind the Barracuda defense but his shot rang off the head of Grosenick and out of play.
At the second intermission, San Diego took a 2-1 lead into the locker room and held the Barracuda scoreless through middle frame despite being outshot 20-15 in the period.
With 7:11 remaining in the contest, San Jose’s Colin Blackwell scored his first goal of the postseason to even the score at 2-2. Blackwell poked at a loose puck at the top of the crease and got enough of it to slide it just past Enroth and inches over the goal line.
Appearing in his first game of the series for the Gulls, forward Spencer Abbott quickly reinserted himself into the lineup with his first multi-point game of the postseason, contributing on all three goals. Abbott assisted on the first two San Diego goals, and tipped Max Jones’ shot at 16:40 of the third period to give the Gulls a 3-2 lead. His three points on the night (1-2=3) matched a postseason high set on two previous occasions with the last occurring May 29, 2014 in the Calder Cup Finals (3-0=3) while with the Toronto Marlies.
The Pacific Division finals resume with Game 3 on Friday, May 12 at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m.). A limited number of tickets are available by visiting AXS.com/Gulls or by phone at (619) 359-4730.
Notes: The longest previous postseason game was 71:55 in Game 2 vs. Ontario in the Pacific Division Finals on May 7, 2016 (2-1 Ontario win). Max Jones recorded his first two professional points and first multi-point game (1-1=2)…Jaycob Megna and Antoine Laganiere also recorded assists.