Gulls Clinch Playoff Berth Despite 4-3 OT LossApr 12, 2019
San Diego fell 4-3 in overtime to the Tucson Roadrunners despite overcoming three one-goal deficits tonight at Tucson Convention Center Arena. The Gulls clinched a berth in the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs prior to the conclusion of tonight’s contest following Colorado’s 3-1 loss to San Jose.
With the point, San Diego extended its road standings point streak to six games (4-0-2-0) while also earning points in 21 of their last 25 road contests (15-4-4-2).
"I think our team’s been through so much adversity this year on a number of fronts," said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. "They were all in. They were never out of the fight. I was proud of how they kept coming back."
Extending their point streaks to four games, both Ben Street (3-4=7) and Corey Tropp (2-4=6) recorded multi-point efforts, while Sam Carrick again set a new milestone.
"It feels good," said Street on clinching a playoff berth. "Obviously we’re still playing for position, so tomorrow’s going to count for a lot. It’s a little bit of a relief. Now the work really gets to start and we get to play in the second season which is a lot more fun."
Tucson struck first on the power play early as Gulls captain Jaycob Megna was given a two-minute minor for tripping. The Roadrunners were able to capitalize as Lane Pederson took a pass from Robbie Russo on the blue line and beat Boyle with a distant wrist shot 2:38 into the game.
It took just 68 seconds for the Gulls to answer with a score of their own and tie the game. Boyle stopped a shot and Corey Tropp gather the rebound in the corner of the Gulls zone. With a deep pass, Tropp found Ben Street who snuck behind both Roadrunners defensemen for a breakaway. Rather than attempt a deke, Street beat Tucson goaltender Adin Hill gloves-side with a clean wrist shot.
Kevin Boyle blocked the shot that led to the goal, picking up an assist on the goal to mark his second career helper (also Mar. 23 vs. Ontario) and become the second Gulls goaltender to record two assists in a season since Matt Hackett recorded two in 2015-16.
Scoring became a trend of early and often as the Roadrunners scored another goal at the 5:57 mark of the first to retake the lead. The third goal in the first six minutes of the game was product of Conor Garland who took a San Diego turnover and turned it into his ninth goal of the season.
Sam Steel set a Gulls franchise mark when he netted his 19th goal of the season 6:45 into the second frame. Michael Bunting was whistled for tripping, giving San Diego their first power-play chance of the night. Andy Welinski and Kalle Kossila took their time cycling the puck in their own zone, while Steel was waiting with his stick in position for a one-timer in the faceoff circle. Welinski gave Steel the chance and he capitalized, setting a club record and surpassing Giovani Fiore's 18 goals last season.
Once again, the Gulls fell behind again as the Roadrunners answered 1:51 later. Garlund threw a pass to Pederson who directed it to the other side of the net before being checked. Michael Chaput was alone with an open net and regained the lead as he roofed a shot to retake the lead.
It was not until the final minute of the second period when San Diego tied the game for a third time. Tropp and Street took the puck out of the Gulls zone and down the ice. With 20 seconds left to play before intermission, Sam Carrick took a drop pass from Street, made his way into to the top of the faceoff circle and first a wrist shot for his 31st goal of the season. The goal marked his 60th point of the season (31-29=60) in his 60th contest as he became the first Gull to reach the 60-point milestone in club history.
The Gulls were given an opportunity to score on the power play in the final period, but the final 20 minutes would be scoreless. The game went to overtime and could possibly have gone to a shootout, but Garlund and the Roadrunners ended the game before it could reach that point with a goal with under two seconds remaining on the clock. Garlund took the puck down the ice and then the left wing before throwing a shot on net.
With two seconds left in the overtime, the puck would sneak by Boyle from an awkward angle and end up in the back of the net to finalize the game, but not without controversy. The clock didn't start when the puck was dropped during the final faceoff of the contest, leaving the Gulls protesting to the officiating crew following the goal as it remained to be seen if the goal would have counted had the clock started on time. The officials did not review the goal on the ice.
The Gulls earned a point and remain in third place in the Pacific Division with one game reamining on the regular-season schedule. Tucson now sits two ponits behind San Diego with one more regulation and overtime win (ROW), the first tiebreaking scenario.
"It feels good," added Eakins on clinching a postseason berth. "It’s great to be in the playoffs but I’m not happy with what went on here tonight with the clock not being started, the referee not blowing his whistle when he knew (the clock) was not going, then obviously not going back to even have some kind of review. It’s one thing for us, but if I’m the Colorado Eagles I’m very upset tonight."
The Gulls will conclude their 2018-19 regular-season schedule against the Roadrunners tomorrow at Tucson Convention Center Arena (7:05 p.m. PT).