April 2, 2016
SAN DIEGO – Brandon Montour broke a 3-3 tie with 14:48 remaining in the third period on Shea Theodore’s third assist of the night, and the San Diego Gulls skated on to a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Barracuda on Saturday night at Valley View Casino Center. A crowd of 9,651 saw the Gulls (36-22-2-2) improve their hold on second place in the AHL Pacific Division, moving .016 ahead of the Texas Stars.
Antoine Laganiere and Montour had a goal and assist each for San Diego, while Corey Tropp, Ondrej Kase and Nic Kerdiles also netted goals for the Gulls. Despite surrendering the lead just 27 seconds into the third period, San Diego prevailed, improving to 30-0-0 when leading after forty minutes of play.
Both teams came onto the ice hungry for two points as the Barracuda entered the night trailing the Charlotte Checkers by .010 for the crossover spot in the Pacific Division playoff bracket, while the Gulls knew an OT road win by Texas earlier in the night had put the pressure on San Diego to win and maintain their hold on second place.
The Gulls grasp on their playoff position seemed more firm than their grasp on the puck in the early going, as a defensive zone giveaway three minutes into the contest led to a San Jose 2-on-1 break from the circles down. Barclay Goodrow held for a perfect pass from Ryan Carpenter, easily shoveling home his 18th goal of the season to give the Barracuda a 1-0 lead at 3:20.
With Mike Sgarbossa ringing a post and the Gulls failing to execute on a pair of quality chances down low, the 1-0 San Jose lead held into the second period. The San Diego team that emerged from the locker room seemed like a different unit in the same sweaters, as the Gulls completely turned the game around.
1:45 into the second stanza, it was Laganiere beating San Jose goalie Troy Grosenick high over the blocker for his 14th goal of the year, from Theodore and Matt Bailey. Almost exactly three minutes later, Corey Tropp was triggered on a perfect neutral zone stretch pass from Theodore to leap behind the Barracuda defense at the blue line. He stick handled in before dekeing Grosenick left-to-right, finishing his 14th of the season as well to make it 2-1 San Diego at 4:44.
Ondrej Kase’s power play goal from Laganiere and Mike Sgarbossa capped the Gulls three goal flurry for a 3-1 advantage at 13:02, but a subsequent San Diego power play turned into a giveaway in the defensive zone and a John McCarthy short-handed score for San Jose at 16:21. The Gulls carried a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
The third period started ominously as Sgarbossa slipped at the edge of Matt Hackett’s net, with the puck left on a tee for Petter Emanuelsson of the Barracuda. His tenth goal was waiting in the upper netting to tie the game at 3-3 just 27 seconds into the frame. Hackett would recover and record his eighth win of the year (8-7-0) with 22 saves on 25 shots faced.
Montour’s eventual game-winner for the Gulls came on a 3-on-2 rush with Theodore and Tropp at 5:12 of the third period. Reassigned by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks earlier in the day, Theodore waited the perfect length of time before passing from right to left circle to Montour, who was holding his stick up high to drive the puck over Grosenick’s shoulder and into the top shelf for his 11th goal of the season.
Nic Kerdiles’ one-timer at 12:49 capped the scoring, on assists from Stefan Noesen and Montour.
The Gulls return quickly to home ice as they welcome in the Stockton Heat on Sunday afternoon for a 3 p.m. faceoff.
NOTES: The hottest line for the Gulls continues to click, as Laganiere, Tropp and Matt Bailey combined for two goals, two assists and a +6 rating on the game…over their past seven games, Laganiere-Bailey-Tropp has combined for 9-18=27 points and a +30 rating…Bailey has 2-8=10 points in the seven-game stretch after recording 2-4=6 points in his first 38 games…The Gulls won back-to-back games when conceding the first goal for the first time this season…Matt Hackett was credited with an assist on Montour’s game-winner, his second helper of the season.
1st Star: SD Shea Theodore (0-3=3, +2 rating, 4 shots); 2nd Star: SD Brandon Montour (1-1=2, +1 rating, 2 shots); 3rd Star: SD Antoine Laganiere (1-1=2, +1 rating, 2 shots)