The San Diego Gulls squandered a three-goal lead for the second consecutive game, losing to the Stockton Heat, 6-5, Friday evening with Curtis Lazar scoring the tie-breaking short-handed goal with 12 seconds to play.
Lazar’s goal came on a play a Gulls defenseman lost an edge and fell down, giving him the space for his seventh goal of the season.
“They are totally separate for me,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said. “In the first game we had the lead right away in the first period and we accepted the game coming to us.
“Tonight when we got the lead, I thought we controlled the play a lot of the time and we were pressing. We weren’t able to finish or we could have had a three- or four-goal lead.
“We made an honest mistake down low on the power play and then a guy just caught an edge. There’s not much you can do about that.”
Eakins said he was “licking my chops on the bench going, `We’re going to win it right here,”‘ or “definitely” in overtime after Stockton defenseman Dalton Prout was called for slashing with 50 seconds to play because of the success of his team’s power play.
The Gulls power play is tied for fourth in the American Hockey League, scoring 25 percent of the time.
The Gulls took a 5-3 lead with six minutes, 56 seconds left in the second period after Sam Steel scored twice 90 seconds apart.
Heat coach Cail MacLean took out goaltender Jon Gillies immediately after Steel’s second goal, replacing him with Nick Schneider (5-1-0-0), who would stop all 12 shots he faced.
Gillies allowed five goals on 14 shots.
Stockton (10-8-1-0) began its comeback on Glenn Gawdin’s power-play goal with 14:35 left in the third period.
The Heat tied the score with 3:42 remaining when Kerby Rychel deflected Matt Taormina’s shot from the point for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.
Steel and Corey Tropp both had two goals and an assist for the Gulls (6-6-1-1) before a crowd at Valley View Casino Center announced at 8,004.
Troy Terry assisted on Tropp’s power-play goal 1:14 into the second period, extending his team-record point streak to 11 games.
Terry’s point streak is the longest by an AHL rookie since 2017 when Evgeny Svechnikov of the Grand Rapids Griffins had a 12-game streak.
Defenseman Andy Welinski also received an assist on the goal in his first game with the Gulls since Nov. 10. He was reassigned to the team earlier Friday by its NHL parent team, the Anaheim Ducks.
Stockton tied the score, 3-3, with 13:27 left in the second period on goals by Matthew Phillips and Prout 1:22 apart.
Gulls left wing Giovanni Fiore opened the scoring 2:22 into the first period with a wrist shot over Gillies’ shoulder.
The Heat tied the score 6:00 later on defenseman Rob Hamilton’s shot from the point.
The Gulls regained the lead on Tropp’s goal with 7:43 left in the first period.
The Gulls were out-shot, 32-26, including a 14-6 deficit in the second period.
Jared Coreau (2-3-1-1) made 26 saves for the Gulls, including stopping Lazar on a second-period penalty shot. Coreau stopped a second-period penalty shot by Spencer Foo in a 5-4 shootout loss to Stockton Oct. 26.
Both teams were one-for-three on the power play.
The crowd pushed the Gulls over the 1 million mark in their 112 games at Valley View Casino Center as a member of the AHL.
The Gulls and Stockton, the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate, will play again Sunday in Stockton.
The game was the Gulls first Hockey Fights Cancer night. They wore lavender jerseys, which were auctioned off after the game with the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
Lavender is the color representing awareness for all types of cancer.
The AHL joined the NHL and National Hockey League Players’ Association for their Hockey Fights Cancer initiative this season, with 21of the 31 AHL teams holding Hockey Fights Cancer awareness nights.
The Hockey Fights Cancer initiative was founded in 1998 by the NHL and National Hockey League Players Association.
More than $20 million has been raised to support national and local cancer research institutions, children’s hospitals, and player and local charities in the United States and Canada.
“Cancer is a disease that affects us all,” Eakins said. “It has affected many guys in our dressing room. It affects everyone around the world.
“If we can just give back and try to raise some funds to fight this nasty disease, I think we’re better for it.”
–City News Service
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