The loss in their third game in four nights dropped the Gulls (35-23-3- 1) two points behind the Ontario Reign (35-21-4-2) in the race for second place in the American Hockey League‘s Pacific Division and home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Both teams have six games left to play in the regular season, including matchups Friday in Ontario and Saturday at Valley View Casino Center.
Ontario has the advantage in the first tiebreaker — games won in regulation or overtime. The Gulls have 31 victories in regulation or overtime, three fewer than the Reign, the Los Angeles Kings‘ AHL affiliate.
Left wing Joey LaLeggia scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with six minutes, 40 seconds to play when he put a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle past Reto Berra for his 13th goal of the season.
The Gulls “had an excellent start” until penalties to Scott Sabourin at 4:42 and Sam Carrick at 14:11 of the first period “took the wind out of our sails,” coach Dallas Eakins said.
In the second period when the Gulls were outshot, 15-5, “we decided we were going to go longer” in the shifts “and what happens is your heart rates are high and you can’t recover and it suddenly got tilted the other way on us,” Eakins said.
The Gulls “played a little bit better in the third but certainly not up to the standard that has been set here by our players this year,” Eakins said.
The Gulls were outshot, 36-23 before a crowd at Rabobank Arena announced at 5,057.
The Condors (28-24-9-1) tied the score 12:24 into the second period when 19-year-old right wing Ostap Safin put a slap shot past Berra for the first goal of his five-game North American professional career.
Safin was chosen by the Edmonton Oilers, Bakersfield’s NHL parent team, in the fourth round of the 2017 draft when he was playing for HC Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga.
He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Oilers on March 6 and was assigned to the Condors on March 20.
The Gulls opened the scoring 18:07 into the first period, capitalizing on a two-man advantage when Roy scored off a pass from Corey Tropp. Sam Carrick was also credited with an assist.
The goal was the lone one scored by the Gulls’ league-leading power play in three opportunities. The Gulls killed all four of Bakersfield’s power-play opportunities.
Berra (16-10-2-0) made 34 saves in his second consecutive loss following a three-game winning streak. Laurent Brossoit (12-8-3-1) made 22 saves as the Condors took sole possession of seventh place in the eight-team Pacific Division, passing the San Jose Barracuda (28-26-4-4).
The Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks‘ AHL affiliate, lost the season series 3- 4-1-0, including an 0-3-1-0 record in the final four games.
The Gulls will play the second game of their three-game road trip Wednesday at San Jose, the San Jose Sharks‘ AHL affiliate.
— City News Service
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