May 10, 2017
The Gulls (4-3) return home for Game 3 of the Pacific Division Finals against the San Jose Barracuda (4-3) tonight at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m., Mighty 1090-AM) as the series shifts back to San Diego. The Gulls and Barracuda split the first two games at SAP Center and enter tonight with their best-of-seven series tied 1-1.
Entering tonight, San Diego has won seven consecutive home games against San Jose dating back to Jan. 13. 2015 (2-1 OTL), and have lost one regulation game all-time vs. San Jose (Nov. 14, 2016; 4-3 loss). Throughout the regular season the Gulls were a perfect 5-0-0-0 on home ice, outscoring the Barracuda 24-10 at Valley View Casino Center (4.8 goals per game, 2.00 GAA). All-time at home, the Gulls have posted an 8-1-1-1 record while outscoring the Barracuda 44-27 (4.0 goals per game, 2.45 GAA).
With the series shifting back to San Diego, the Gulls hope to change their fortunes after leaving the Bay Area with an even series but having been out-shot 80-48 over the two games.
“We’ve got to have a real urgency with detail. They’re firing on all cylinders and we’re not yet,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “The detail in the work is certainly going to have to pick up if we’re going to be successful.”
In Game 1, the Gulls forced overtime after Nate Guenin netted the game-tying goal with less than five minutes remaining in the third period to knot the game at 2-2, and Kevin Roy scored the game-winning overtime goal 38 seconds into the extra session to steal home-ice from the Barracuda and give San Diego and early 1-0 series lead.
“It was pretty nice,” said Roy on his game-winning goal. “I got a good bounce there and I was able to break through and get a shot off. It was good to get the first win there.”
Jhonas Enroth starred in Game 1, stopping 36-of-38 shots and picking up his fourth win of the postseason. In seven postseason appearances, Enroth (4-3) has a 2.37 goals-against average (GAA) and .933 save percentage (SV%). Many of his Gulls teammates took notice of the strong play between the pipes throughout the first two games of the series.
“Our goalie played really well,” added Roy. “(Enroth) played really well on Friday and stole the game for us. It gives us a lot of confidence that we can get it done now and if we play our style of game and play well we’ll come out on top.”
Guenin added to Roy’s comments on wanting to play strong from the net out going forward.
“You know he’s going to be there to make the saves when it counts,” added Guenin on Enroth. “Moving forward we don’t want to leave him out to dry like we did tonight. He won us that game.”
The Barracuda quickly evened up the series in Game 2 scoring early and often in the second game of the back-to-back. Five different San Jose players scored in the win, while Ryan Carpenter (1-1=2), Time Meier (0-2=2), J Bergman (0-2=2) and Tim Heed (0-2=2) each recorded multi-point games.
“We definitely stole the first one and the second game they kind of took it to us,” said defenseman Keaton Thompson. “Home ice, I think we just have to play hard. It’s home ice so we just have to defend it with all of our pride.”
Kalle Kossila and Kevin Roy lead all active San Diego skaters throughout the postseason each registering five points through the first seven games. Kossila (2-3=5) and Roy (2-3=5) both scored goals in Game 1 of the Pacific Division Finals in San Jose and will be key components in today’s Game 3. On the other end of the ice, San Jose right wing Ryan Carpenter leads San Jose with six postseason goals and 10 points in the first seven games. Goalie Troy Grosenick has posted a 4-3 record with a 2.39 GAA and .910 SV% in seven playoff starts.
The Gulls and Barracuda will play three games in San Diego this week, with the Gulls looking to close out the series. To do so, the Gulls will face adversity like they have all season after the Anaheim Ducks recalled center Sam Carrick yesterday.
The Gulls have used 52 players to date this season, the most in the AHL, and head coach Dallas Eakins has stressed that each vacancy in the lineup is an opportunity for another player to make the most of it.
“The Ducks are dealing with their own injuries and obviously our guys up there are doing the best they can to try to help them,” said Eakins. “We’re pulling for them. We want our organization to win up top and to win here. Hopefully they can get that game looked after on Wednesday as well.”
“We never worry about call-ups. It’s what we’re here for. We’re happy when guys go, at all positions. Like I was talking about before, it provides opportunity for someone else’s growth. We’re ready for all scenarios here. We’ve got a number of goalies, we’ve got extra D, extra forwards. It’s just up to the guys coming in to fill those holes with some details, some passion and a high compete level.”
“It’s plug and play. Another opportunity for Mitch Hults who is just fresh out of college and we’ll put him in the lineup and see how it goes for him. He’s been really detailed in all the meetings, worked extremely hard and we’ll try to give him support around him to set him up for success.”
Both teams enter tonight with a 4-3 record in the postseason, with San Diego posting a 2-1 record at home and San Jose splitting their two previous contests at Stockton during their First Round series (1-1).
“We just have to play our game and not play their game,” said Roy. “Play hard and fast like we’ve been playing all year and not jump into their style. It’s always hard to go into someone else’s building. Here we have great fans and it’s good to be home. It feels good and we have home-ice advantage this week so we’ll try to take advantage of that.”