The San Diego Gulls rallied from a two-goal deficit, but allowed a tie-breaking power-play goal with four minutes, 44 seconds to play in a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Barracuda on Wednesday evening.
Alexander True put in a rebound for his team-leading 23rd goal of the season and seventh against the Gulls as the Barracuda (33-20-3-4) moved into a tie for second with the Gulls in the American Hockey League‘s Pacific Division.
The Gulls (33-21-4-3) have six games left to play, one less than San Jose. The second-place finisher will have the home-ice advantage in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
The goal came as the Gulls were attempting to kill a penalty for having too many men on the ice.
“To get a too many men penalty with six minutes left is a tough one,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said. “It was a guy who jumped on the ice, had nothing to do with the play, and jumped right back off, but they felt like it was time to call one.”
The Gulls were scoreless on three power-play opportunities, including a two-man advantage for 1:17 early in the third period.
“I would have liked to see us execute better on our power play when we had the 5-on-3,” Eakins said. “When you get a chance 5-on-3, there is always a chance the penalties are going to come back to haunt you.”
The Gulls killed both of the Barracuda’s first two power-play opportunities, including one earlier in the third period, then allowed a goal on their third.
Ben Street figured in on both Gulls goals. He scored the first with three seconds left in the first period and assisted on Adam Cracknell’s goal at 14:15 of the second period that tied the score, 2-2.
Sam Carrick won the faceoff in the left circle leading to Street’s goal, directed the puck back to Chase De Leo, who passed to Street in the right faceoff circle who put a slap shot passed Antoine Bibeau for his fifth goal of the season.
Cracknell skated from behind the net to the left faceoff circle where he put a slap shot into the net for his 13th goal in 27 games with the Gulls after being acquired by their NHL parent team, the Anaheim Ducks, Dec. 10, from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Steven Oleksy.
Center Brent Gates Jr. was credited with the second assist in his professional debut, five days after signing an amateur tryout agreement.
“It was really exciting,” said Gates, who completed his four-season college career at Minnesota March 16 in a 2-1 loss to Notre Dame in the Big Ten Tournament.
“In the first period, it took a few shifts to get my feet under me and start thinking straight, but I had two really good players (Street and Cracknell) to play with who have been around and done really well. They were able to help me out a lot. They made it a lot easier on me. When the second and third period rolled around, it felt like I was just playing hockey.”
Gates was chosen by the Ducks in the third round for the 2015 NHL draft. His father was an infielder with three major league teams from 1993-99.
The Barracuda took a 2-0 lead. Rookie center Dylan Gambrell opened the scoring 6:30 into the first period, putting a shot from the right faceoff circle past Kevin Boyle for his 18th goal of the season, one day after being returned on loan from their NHL parent team, the San Jose Sharks.
San Jose increased its lead to 2-0 13:44 into the period on Nick DeSimone’s 12th goal of the season.
The Gulls were outshot 26-25, including a 13-5 deficit in the second period before a crowd at Pechanga Arena San Diego announced at 6,934.
Boyle (22-10-1-0) made 23 saves. Bibeau (13-12-2-3) made 23 in his second victory in his last nine starts.
The Gulls will resume their four-game homestand Friday against the division-leading Bakersfield Condors, the Edmonton Oilers AHL affiliate.
— City News Service