Boyle Shuts Out Wolves, Gulls Tie Series with 3-0 WinMay 18, 2019
Kevin Boyle stopped all 29 shots to record the second shutout in Gulls postseason history and lead San Diego to a 3-0 win over the Chicago Wolves in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals at Allstate Arena. The win knotted the season
San Diego improved to 8-4 in the postseason, including five road wins to co-lead the Calder Cup Playoffs (also Toronto). The Gulls have not lost in regulation in 10 straight playoff contests (7-3; all three losses in overtime). Dating to the regular season, San Diego has not lost in regulation in 14 straight road games, (5-0-2-0 regular season, 5-2 playoffs; both overtime losses), in addition to 28 of their last 34 road contests (17-4-4-2 regular season, 5-2 playoffs). San Diego leads the postseason in goals (49) and goals-per game (4.08).
The Gulls also improved to 4-0 this postseason when scoring the game’s first goal. San Diego was perfect on the penalty kill, stopping all four of Chicago’s chances.
Tonight marked Boy's first start of the playoffs since Game 2 at Bakersfield, May 4, when he stopped 19 of 20 shots in his first career postseason win. Boyle has won back-to-back games this postseason, stopping 48-of-49 shots to post a 0.55 goals-against average and .980 save percentage over the two games. Boyle has earned two regular-season shutouts in his AHL career.
"It’s huge, especially after last night. We had a lead late in the third period and they scored to tie it up," said Boyle. "It was nice to shut it down there at the end. Like I said, the team, credit to them so much. They kept everything to the outside, they were blocking shots like crazy. They did a hell of a job."
Jack Kopacka scored his first professional postseason goal in his return to the Gulls lineup. The 21-year-old winger has 1-1=2 points in his first two playoff games with San Diego. Kiefer Sherwood picked up two assists for his third multi-point game of the postseason, his first with multiple assists.
Adam Cracknell retook the league lead for postseason points (6-9=15) with the primary helper on Carrick’s goal and now ranks tied for second in assists. The veteran forward extended his assist streak to three games (0-4=4) and has picked up 4-8=12 points in his last seven contests.
For the fourth time this offseason the Gulls score the game’s first goal. Sam Carrick and Max Comtois collected the puck behind the net on a dump and chase effort before Comtois got the puck to Cracknell in front of the net. Cracknell threw the puck on net, but Carrick found the rebound and shot it past Dansk 6:56 into action for the opening goal of the game.
"We always want to have good starts. I think tonight we had a pretty good start. It’s huge to get that first goal," said Carrick. "It was one of the plays that we’ve talked about. Those are the goals we’re going to have to score in playoffs here. We dumped it in, got the puck back, took it to the net and I just went backdoor and the puck came to me. I had the easy job of putting it in the net and my two linemates did all the work. It was a good goal and I think it gave our team a little bit of confidence."
With the eventual game-winning goal, Carrick tied Cracknell for the team-lead in goals (6) and now ranks tied for third in the AHL among scoring leaders (6-7=13). Assisting on the play was Comtois who extended his point streak to three games (3-2=5) and has a +4 rating over that span.
"It makes you feel good. It’s always interesting, the effect of shots on net early or a goal early has on your mood and how you’re feeling about your game," said head coach Dallas Eakins. "To go out and score early, it puts you in a real positive frame of mind. I’m a big believer in having that positivity in your game."
Chicago led in shots by a margin of 8-6 after the opening 20 minutes, yet the Gulls had the only goal and killed the lone penalty of the period.
San Diego struck again to extend their lead to two goals on a shot by Kopacka 2:08 into the second frame. After the Gulls lost a faceoff in the offensive zone, Sherwood tracked down the puck and created a turnover. Sherwood got the puck to Kopacka who had room in the slot and fired a shot. His initial shot was blocked by a Wolves defender, but Kopacka took the rebound and shot another, this time beating Dansk on his blocker side.
Sherwood took a checking to the head penalty and Chicago was given their second power-play opportunity of the game. San Diego’s penalty kill was outstanding, not giving the Wolves any room to score and almost netting a shorthanded goal. Chase De Leo stole the puck in the defensive zone, put the puck in between a defenders skates and got a backhand shot on net.
At the second intermission, the shot count was 18-14 in favor of the Wolves and neither team capitalized on their one power-play chance.
Just about five minutes into final frame, the Wolves had one of their best scoring chances of the game. Curtis McKenzie attempted a wraparound shot, but Boyle made a last second save to prevent it from entering the net, keeping Chicago scoreless.
In a late attempt to score a couple of goals and tie the game, Chicago pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker. Sherwood lifted the puck out of the Gulls zone and Sam Steel caught the pass and dropped it to his stick. From the red line in the middle of the rink Steel fired a shot that ended up in the empty net to seal the game.
The final shot totals were 29-23 with Chicago leading the category. Neither team was able to score on the power play, the Gulls 0-3 and the Wolves 0-4.
"There’s no question we have the most rabid fan base in the AHL that I’ve seen," added Eakins. "I know we haven’t gone to all the buildings, but in every building that I’ve ever been in over four years, our fan base is the most rabid base. They’ve supported us, they always push us forward. If we’re behind, they inspire us and we’ll expect nothing less of them. I hope they expect nothing less than our best when we get home."
The Western Conference Finals will shift to San Diego beginning with Game 3 on Wednesday, May 22 (7 p.m.) at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The Gulls will also host Game 4 on Friday, May 24 (7 p.m., FOX 5 San Diego) and Game 5 on Saturday, May 25 (7 p.m.).