Gulls center Adam Cracknell scores the game-winning goal in a shootout against the San Jose Barracuda. Photo courtesy of the San Diego Gulls

The last-place San Diego Gulls ended a five-game winless streak with a 4-3 shootout victory over the league-leading San Jose Barracuda Saturday evening at the recently renamed Pechanga Arena San Diego, overcoming a two-goal first-period deficit.

Rookie left wing Max Jones had the first two-goal game of his 20-game professional career and scored to open the shootout and Sam Carrick tied the score with a power-play goal with nine minutes, 57 seconds to play in regulation for the Gulls (9-11-1-2).

Neither team scored during the five-minute overtime which is played with three skaters per team, two fewer than regulation. The Gulls were outshot in the overtime, 2-1.

Both teams scored in the first round — Antti Suomela for the Barracuda and Jones for the Gulls. Neither team scored in the next two rounds, sending the shootout into its sudden-death phase.

Both teams also scored in the fourth round — Dylan Gambrell for San Jose and Kalle Kossila for the Gulls.

Barracuda center Alex True failed to score on his fifth-round shot while center Adam Cracknell, playing in his first home game for the Gulls, scored the game-winner.

The Gulls lost in a shootout Friday night in Bakersfield.

“I was just super proud of the group,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said. “We didn’t have a player here tonight that was asleep before 4 a.m. after getting back from Bakersfield. With San Jose just sitting here waiting for us, I thought it was a great testament of the work ethic, the heart and the mindset of this group.”

The loss ended a five-game winning streak for the Barracuda (15-3-1- 3) which has a league-best .773 points percentage. The point they received for the shootout loss extended their streak of at least one standings point to nine games with six victories, an overtime loss and two shootout losses.

The Gulls were outshot 31-28, including a 15-9 deficit in the first period when they were outscored 2-1.

Gulls goaltender Kevin Boyle (6-5-0-0) made 28 saves for his first victory since Nov. 25. Boyle was 0-2 in his previous four appearances since his last victory.

Antoine Bibeau (6-2-1-3) made 25 saves for San Jose before a crowd announced at 10,911. Bibeau entered the game with a 2.16 goals against average, second in the American Hockey League behind teammate Josef Korenar, who has a 1.99 goals against average.

For the second consecutive game, the Gulls never led in regulation. On the game-tying goal, Carrick redirected a pass from Troy Terry for his team- leading 11th goal of the season, completing a Gordie Howe hat trick of a goal, and assist and a fight. The goal was the Gulls lone score in five power-play opportunities.

San Jose took a 3-2 lead with 13:17 remaining when Gambrell put a slap shot from the point over Boyle’s shoulders for his fifth goal of the season and second in two games after going 11 games without a goal.

The Gulls tied the score 2-2 3:57 into the second period when a clearing attempt by Barracuda defenseman Keaton Middleton deflected off Gulls center Isac Lunderstrom. The puck went to Jones who put a wrist shot from between the faceoff circles past Bibeau for his seventh goal of the season.

“He was huge,” Eakins said of Jones. “He got two goals. He drew three penalties. On one of the penalties, we score on the power play. It was just a great effort from a player that is going to have a very great career.”

True opened the scoring 2:13 into the first period with a power-play goal, San Jose’s lone goal in four power-play opportunities.

Playing his first game since being loaned to the Barracuda by their NHL parent team, the San Jose Sharks, Suomela increased the lead to 2-0 11:35 into the first period, banking the puck off the skate of Gulls defenseman Scott Moldenhauer.

Suomela, a native of Finland playing in his first season in North America, had three goals and five assists in 27 games with the Sharks.

Jones cut the deficit to 2-1 when he took a pass from Carrick, fought off an attempted check by Francis Perron and put a shot past Bibeau 13:28 into the period. Defenseman Jaycob Megna was also credited with an assist.

There were two fights. Carrick and San Jose defenseman Jeremy Roy fought at 10:39 into the second period with both players receiving five-minute major penalties.

The second fight broke out 1:51 later with Gulls defenseman Luke Schenn and Barracuda right wing Jonathon Martin drawing five-minute major penalties.

The fights were the Gulls first since they were involved in four in a 2-1 victory over the Manitoba Moose Nov. 30, six games ago. The fights were the first of the season for both Gulls.

Cracknell was acquired by the Gulls’ NHL parent team, the Anaheim Ducks, from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday in exchange for defenseman Steve Oleksy, who had been playing for the Gulls. Cracknell is scoreless in his two games with the Gulls.

Cracknell “is exactly what we needed, a veteran presence,” Carrick said.

“He’s a very talkative guy which is great for our room,” Carrick said. “.You always need more guys like that. For him to come in and bury that shootout winner, I was so happy for him. We needed it.”

Despite the loss, the Gulls remain in last in the seven-team Pacific Division, two points behind sixth-place Ontario.

“Obviously, we aren’t where we want to be right now in the standings,” Carrick said. “There are still lots of hockey games left, so we’re not panicking by any means, but now is the time to go on a run, string a bunch of wins together, and climb back up the standings.”

The Gulls and San Jose will play again Wednesday at Pechanga Arena San Diego.

The San Diego City Council voted Dec. 4 to approve a new naming rights agreement for the arena, negotiated by arena management. The agreement providing the previous name, Valley View Casino Center, expired Nov. 30.

Updated 11:41 p.m. Dec. 15, 2019

— City News Service

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