Feb. 8, 2017
SAN JOSE – The Gulls (24-13-2-2, 52 pts.) saw their six-game winning streak and club record 12-game standings point streak (11-0-0-1) snapped in a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Barracuda (25-11-1-3; 54 pts.) at SAP Center on Wednesday night. The loss also snapped the Gulls’ club record 10-game road standings point streak (9-0-0-1) dating back to Dec. 29 at Texas.
Despite the loss, the Gulls have won six of their past seven games (6-1-0), 13 of the last 16 games (13-2-0-1), and earned standings points in 16 of the past 18 games (13-2-1-2) and 25 of the last 33 overall (22-8-1-2).
Nikita Jevpalovs scored the game-winning goal and San Jose goaltender Troy Grosenick made 38 saves (15-8-2) in his third victory against the Gulls this season, all at SAP Center. Grosenick has stopped 79 of the 80 shots he has faced from San Diego in the three contests between the clubs in San Jose posting a 0.33 goals-against average (GAA), a .987 save percentage (SV%) and two shutouts.
“I think we threw up close to 40 shots at him tonight and he was definitely the difference maker in the game,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins.
San Diego goaltender Jhonas Enroth (10-2-0) made 26 saves in his first loss since joining the Gulls on Jan. 10 after being acquired by the Anaheim Ducks from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Enroth has posted an 8-1 record with San Diego, including a 1.22 GAA, a .953 SV% and two shutouts.
Adam Helewka opened the scoring for San Jose at 13:58 of the first period when he squeaked a wrist shot off a partial breakaway past Gulls goaltender Jhonas Enroth for his 11th goal of the season. The puck slid past San Diego defenseman Nate Guenin and although Keaton Thompson tracked Helewka, the Barracuda forward still managed to score the game’s opening goal.
“It was an unfortunate error on our behalf but I thought we tracked it down fairly quickly,” added Eakins when asked about the opening goal. “You don’t want to get behind in a game like that. It’s not so much about not scoring first it’s about not giving the other team something and I thought we gave them something there.”
“That being said, early we had a couple great chances and if we could have gotten one past Grosenick I think it could have been a much better game.”
San Diego’s best chance of the opening period came on the power play when Chris Wagner slid a backhand bid through the crease underneath a sprawling Grosenick but no other member of the five-man unit could slide the puckhome. The Gulls outshot San Jose 11-9 in the opening frame, but trailed 1-0 after the first 20 minutes of play.
The Barracuda took a 2-0 lead only 1:29 into the middle frame when Nikita Jevpalovs located a loose puck and lifted a backhand past a screened Enroth. San Jose played tight defense in the second period keeping the Gulls to the outside and limiting San Diego’s offensive opportunities. Grosenick’s toughest save of the stanza came on Kevin Roy’s snapshot from the slot, but otherwise the Barracuda netminder was not tested with grade-A scoring chances often.
Early in the final frame San Diego controlled the play and peppered Grosenick with multiple high-quality chances. San Jose’s goaltender responded with save after save and kept the Gulls off the board till midway through the frame.
Nic Kerdiles went to the box for hooking at 10:36 and San Jose looked to put the game way, but instead of a three-goal lead, the Barracuda advantage was cut to one when Chris Wagner finally poked home a loose rebound to get the Gulls on the board. Wagner’s goal marked his fourth in the last six games and San Diego’s ninth shorthanded tally of the season. The Gulls now co-lead the AHL in shorthanded goals with Syracuse.
The Gulls made a late push with several opportunities in the waning minutes, but Grosenick shut the door as San Jose extended their win streak to six games and ended San Diego’s multiple point streaks.
“I love our group. We always work, we never feel that we’re out of a game,” added Eakins. “We said after the second period ‘let’s just go get it.’ I think it would have been very easy for us to have a very different fate tonight if we would have gotten that early goal and not given them the gift.”
San Diego concludes their three-game road trip when they visit the Ontario Reign at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Friday, Feb. 10 (7 p.m.). The Gulls return home on Sunday, Feb. 12 to take on the Bakersfield Condors, (5 p.m.) at Valley View Casino Center. The game will be televised by FOX 5 San Diego throughout San Diego. Fans can purchase tickets by visiting AXS.com/Gulls or by phone at (619) 359-4730.
NOTES: Jaycob Megna tallied an assist and leads all active Gulls defensemen with 15 assists on the season…Tyler Morley also registered an assist and led all skaters with a game-high eight shots on net…San Diego fell to 3-3-0-0 against San Jose this season and 7-7-1-0 in the second half of back-to-back contests…Tim Heed and Mirco Mueller recorded assists for San Jose.
1. Troy Grosenick (SJ)
2. Nikita Jevpalovs (SJ)
3. Adam Helewka (SJ)