Game 3 Preview: Series Shifts to San JoseApr 22, 2019
The path runs through San Jose this week for the Gulls. After splitting the first two games, the Gulls and Barracuda shift their five-game First Round series to San Jose and play Game 3 tonight at SAP Center (7 p.m., Radio: XTRA 1360-AM).
A wild Game 1 saw the Gulls take the series lead following a 6-5 OT win where San Diego overcame 3-0 and 5-3 deficits. Game 2 went San Jose’s way as the Barracuda got out to an early lead they wouldn’t relinquish despite a second-straight comeback effort. San Jose held on to a 5-3 Game 2 win and the path to the Pacific Division Finals will run through San Jose for two, and potentially three games.
In Game 1 what made the Gulls successful in their comeback was attributed to the ability for the forward group getting pucks behind San Jose’s defense. Playing at their best is playing a simple game that head coach Dallas Eakins has tried to instill in his team dating to the change in the team’s ethos back in December to be hard, gritty and make the simple play that helps the team win games.
“Well for me and us, we have to really play deep. I think that’s when we’ve really played our best,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “Once we got going in Game 1, we were excellent in that department. We started Game 2 wanting to play on the outside. I think we always use the word cute. I think we wanted to make the nice play rather than the one that isn’t so sexy, but gets the job done.”
Tonight marks Game 3 where the Gulls have posted an 3-1 record in their four previous Game 3’s. The Gulls also enter tonight having earned points in seven straight road games (5-0-2-0) dating to the regular season which marked the second-longest such streak in the AHL to conclude the season. The Gulls also collected points in 22 of their last 26 road contests (16-4-4-2) of the regular season to post an 18-10-4-2 road record, tied for the third most road wins in the Western Conference.
“I think we know what to do, we’ve been doing it all season long,” said Gulls forward Chase De Leo on the Gulls success on the road this season. “We have all the preparation, mentally and physically. It’s just putting it to work, getting the job done on the ice and getting the (win) that we need in San Jose.”
Game 3 also marks the second time San Diego has visited SAP Center in the postseason. The Gulls took Game 1 of the 2017 Pacific Division Finals with a 3-2 OT win that saw Kevin Roy net the game-winning goal 38 seconds into the extra session. San Jose took the second game of the series.
In 10 regular-season games between the clubs, the Gulls posted a 6-4-0-0 record in addition to a 3-2-0-0 mark at SAP Center, including an 8-3 win on Feb. 16. All-time, the Gulls are 25-19-2-1 vs. the Barracuda (including the postseason) and an 11-10-1-0 road record.
“It’s a grind, it’s that time of the year. This is when big-game players have to step up,” added De Leo following the first two games. “It’s an important time of the year, obviously. You can’t wait, it goes by quick and we’re facing a real good team that has a lot of skill and some compete too. We have to match that and surpass that in the next couple games here.”
A big game player De Leo has been through two games this series. The fourth-year forward scored San Diego’s fifth goal in the third period of Game 1, the game-tying goal to force overtime. He then scored his first postseason shorthanded goal in Game 2 to put the Gulls on the board and change momentum in San Diego’s favor.
“All year long, there’s no easy nights. When playoffs come around, there’s a little extra jump and extra intensity for sure,” added De Leo. “Every battle, winning and losing battles in the game, it does make a difference in the game. We have to start on time and be prepared to play.”
San Jose has had success putting the puck in the net with 10 goals in the two games to date (two empty-net goals in Game 2). Right wing Evan Weinger leads the series with four points (2G/2A) and is tied with teammate Ivan Chekhovich, De Leo and Gulls right wing Kiefer Sherwood for the series lead in goals.
In net, Josef Korenar held the fort in Game 2 to earn his first career postseason win. In Game 1, the Czech rookie replaced Antoine Bibeau midway through the first period and was the goaltender of record in the overtime loss. For San Diego, Jeff Glass started his first game of the series just as Korenar. The veteran netminder relieved Kevin Boyle in the first period of Game 1 as well, and won his first playoff game as a Gull. As the series shifts to San Jose, the Gulls could look to Glass as a stabilizing veteran presence. In last year’s playoffs, the 33-year old went 2-0 in two road postseason games with Rockford, stopping a combined 68-of-71 shots to post a 1.47 GAA and .958 SV%.
With four days between games, the Gulls will be prepared to play come puck drop. The series has shifted and San Diego will look to change the momentum in their favor starting tonight.