Gulls Down Wolves 3-2 to Take 2-1 Series LeadMay 22, 2019
The Gulls won their third straight home contest and took a 2- series lead in the Western Conference Finals with a 3-2 win over the Chicago Wolves tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego. San Diego has won the most games in a single postseason in club history (9) and have not lost in regulation in 11 straight playoff contests (8-3; all three losses in OT).
San Diego was a perfect 4-4 on the penalty kill tonight and have killed 9-10 (90.0%) over the three games against the Wolves series. In six home games this postseason, the Gulls are 20-23 (87.0%) on the penalty kill and have added two shorthanded goals.
“That’s a very good hockey team over there. These games are extremely tight,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “I think the difference in the game tonight was our penalty killers came up big, not only killing off some crucial power plays, they had four power plays to our two tonight. They chipped in with a goal and it was a big one when it was 1-1 there. For me, that was the difference tonight.”
Trevor Murphy scored his first career game-winning goal in a playoff game and added an assist for his fifth career multi-point game and first with the Gulls. Sam Steel netted his first postseason shorthanded goal.
Kevin Boyle made 21 saves for his third consecutive win this postseason tonight. Over his past three games played, Boyle is 3-0 and has stopped 69-of-72 shots for a 1.07 GAA and a .958 SV%.
“Kevin went about his business excellent tonight,” said Eakins. “He’s calm, he’s quiet in the net. He looks to not be getting rattled by the traffic. Chicago is a smart team. I know their coach well. I’m sure the game plan is to take the contact right to the edge, without taking a penalty. He was getting bumped a lot down there tonight. I thought he handled that well.”
After failing to score in Game 2 of the series, Chicago struck first with a goal just 1:35 into the game. After making his way into the Gulls zone, Wolves rookie Cody Glass passed the puck to T.J. Tynan who fired a shot on net. Boyle made a pad save, but was unable to secure the puck and Tye McGinn put the rebound in the back of the net.
The Gulls answered just three minutes later as Ben Street and Corey Tropp combined to score San Diego’s opening goal. Street took a pass from Tropp at center ice and raced down the right wing before stopping to create a clear shooting lane towards the net. With Tropp screening Chicago netminder Oscar Dansk in front of the net, Street fired a shot off his linemate and into the net at the 4:56 mark of the opening frame. Murphy also picked up an assist on the goal, his third of the postseason.
Kiefer Sherwood was flagged for tripping midway through the period, giving Chicago their first power-play opportunity. During the penalty kill, Sam Carrick was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking. The Gulls successfully killed all 52 seconds of the Wolves’ five-on-three power play.
The opening 20 minutes of play ended tied at one goal apiece as the Gulls doubled the Wolves in shots 12-6.
Chicago was given another chance on the power play after Justin Kloos was given a two minute slashing minor. However, it was San Diego that would score a goal for a league-tying second shorthanded goal of the postseason. As the puck rimmed around the boards behind the net, Dansk stopped it and attempted to clear the zone with a pass high off the boards, but Steel knocked the puck out of the air and to his stick. The Gulls rookie center then brought the puck to the net, made a quick deke and beat Dansk five-hole, putting the Gulls up 2-1 just 3:34 into the second period.
Midway through the second frame, Andy Welinski laid a hit on Chicago forward Cody Glass in the Gulls defensive zone. Welinski was assessed a five-minute major and match penalty for a check to the head. Glass returned to the game in the third period.
The Gulls extended the lead to two as a result of a long shift in the Chicago defensive zone. After Dansk made a couple of strong saves in tight to the goal, the puck bounced out high to Murphy, whose slapshot snuck through traffic in front and past Dansk, putting the Gulls ahead 3-1 with 8:16 left in the middle frame.
At the conclusion of the second period, the Gulls led the Wolves by a score of 3-1 and also held the lead in shots 20-15.
Chicago pulled back within a goal late in the third period as a rebound snuck through Boyle’s legs and was uncovered in the San Diego crease. With the Wolves’ netminder pulled and the sixth attacker on the ice, Curtis McKenzie found the loose puck first, scoring his team-leading sixth goal of the playoffs to cut San Diego’s advantage to 2-1 with 3:30 remaining in regulation.
The Wolves would be unable to produce a game-tying goal, however, as the Gulls prevailed with a 3-2 victory to take a 2-1 series lead.
“I think it was just two evenly matched teams going toe-to-toe,” said Tropp. “They’re a great team and every game has been a one-goal game. We had an overtime loss, the second game in Chicago was a little tighter than the score might have shown. It’s just a lot of fun. Two teams competing, going toe-to-toe. It’s a pretty good show for the fans. It’s playoff hockey.”
The Western Conference Finals will continue with Game 4 on Friday, May 24 (7 p.m., FOX 5 San Diego) and Game 5 on Saturday, May 25 at Pechanga Arena (7 p.m. PT).