Gulls Earn Point, but Fall to Condors in ShootoutJan 4, 2020
Kirill Maksimov scored in the fifth round of the shootout to give the Bakersfield Condors a 2-1 shootout win. Sam Carrick scored for the second straight night and Luke Esposito responded in the third period before both teams earned a point. Gulls goaltender Anthony Stolarz stopped 26-of-27 shots, but it was the 39 saves from Skinner that backstopped Bakersfield to their second straight win and points in five straight (4-0-1-0).
“I liked our start, I liked our middle and I liked our finish. That was a very complete game by us,” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “I liked our tempo, I liked our effort and I liked how everyone was engaged and involved. I’m very happy with our effort tonight, but I’m not happy with the results. Overall, it would have been nice to score one on the five-on-three, but other than that we played a very complete game.”
The Gulls nearly took the lead eight-plus minutes into the contest when Brent Gates Jr. hit the post on a seeing-eye-shot from the top of the left circle, only for the puck to carom back out despite beating Skinner high to the glove side.
Two minutes later Carrick put the Gulls on the board to open the scoring at 10:42 of the opening frame to push his goal streak to three games, bookending his 10-game AHL absence while with Anaheim. The play began in San Diego’s zone with Stolarz making a flurry of stops in his own crease before kicking the puck forward to Alex Dostie whose saucer pass through two Condors defensemen sprung Carrick for the breakaway score.
The assist for Stolarz marked his third of the season and second in his last three starts. His three assists in 2019-20 set a new single-season Gulls record in addition to the Gulls all-time record for assists by a goaltender, surpassing the previous mark of two set by Kevin Boyle (2018-19) and Matt Hackett (2015-16).
Carrick’s goal held up as the lone tally of the first 20 minutes as the Gulls also led with a 9-6 shot advantage.
Midway through the second period the Gulls would have their biggest advantage with back-to-back 5-on-3 power plays. First, Keegan Lowe and Jake Kulevich took penalties to give the Gulls a two-man advantage for 30 seconds, which they couldn’t convert on with multiple cross-ice passes failing to open the three-man unit for Bakersfield. But 14 seconds later Brandon Manning took a roughing call to give San Diego 86 seconds with the 5-on-3 advantage.
San Diego failed to take advantage of the second 5-on-3 as two glorious back-door passes created grade-A scoring chances down low, but each attempt was thwarted by Skinner. The Gulls would get another power play, their fourth of the period, but as the five-man unit rushed up the ice and Alex Dostie found the back of the net, the back-side linesman blew the play dead to call a too-many men penalty on San Diego. The Gulls killed the ensuing penalty after 30 seconds of 4-on-4 hockey, and the middle period came to an end with the Gulls leading 1-0 and 23-16 in shots on goal.
“It’s a must score on a five-on-three. We have to do a better job there,” said forward Chase De Leo. “Plays were there, but the penalty kill on their side did a good job. Definitely would like to get one or two, if possible, and help the team out.”
As the third period opened, Skinner kept the score within a goal as Carrick skated in on a partial breakaway but his attempt was denied by the second-year goaltender.
Bakersfield would get on the board just over five minutes into the third period, with Luke Esposito knotting the game at 1-1 on a high deflection. His fifth goal came as he got a stick on Colby Cave’s point shot that snuck under the blocker and above the pad through Stolarz.
Neither team could find the back of the net through the last 15 minutes as the Gulls dominated possession for long stretches, and regulation came to an end 1-1 with San Diego leading in shots 37-25.
Overtime saw five minutes of back-and-forth action with Brendan Guhle’s end-to-end rush the biggest chance for San Diego to take the two points. His shot couldn’t sneak behind Skinner and the five minutes passed without a goal despite five shots between the clubs, with the Gulls finishing with a 40-28 shot advantage.
“It’s definitely fun,” said Stolarz on the five-minute overtime. “I’d rather a continuous with three-on-three than go to the shootout. The back-and-forth action gets fans out of their seats. It’s kind of like a pick-up game, like you’re playing with your buddies. As a goalie, you never know when you get the chance to fire one up and make a play.
In the shootout, Tyler Benson and Justin Kloos were denied in the first round. Cooper Marody tallied while Sam Carrick was stopped in the second round. Alex Broadhurst netted for San Diego and Stolarz stopped Cave to extend the shootout. Jack Kopacka and Esposito each scored in the fourth round, but the fifth round would be the decider. Chris Mueller was denied on his attempt, and Maksimov slid the puck under Stolarz to seal the win for Bakersfield and extend their point streak to five games.
“This was one of our better games of the year” added Stolarz. “You look at the comparisons from the first period last night and the first period tonight, if we continue this trend and play this way and play the right way, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games. Right now, the biggest thing is we have a lot of games coming up so we just have to maintain our consistency and take care of our bodies, and let things take care of themselves.”
San Diego’s season-long five-game homestand continues Wednesday, Jan 8 vs the Iowa Wild (7 p.m.)