Gulls Set Franchise Record With Season-Opening Five-Game Win StreakFeb 14, 2021
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
Before the season started, San Diego's coaching staff stressed the importance of a good start. Last season, the team went winless in its first six games, and wanted to set a new tone in 2020-21.
This year's team certainly took those words to heart.
Jamie Drysdale scored the game-winning, overtime goal to push the Gulls past the Colorado Eagles, 3-2, at FivePoint Arena on Sunday night. The win set a new franchise record for the most consecutive victories to open a season, and the Gulls became only the second Pacific Division team to start a season 5-0-0-0.
San Diego has allowed just nine goals through five games, the fewest in club history. The Gulls also lead the American Hockey League in wins (5) and points (10).
"We all just trust in our system, and trust in the skill and talent we have," Andrew Poturalski said. "If we play hard and outwork other teams, we know our skill and talent will prevail. We just have to keep going and keep winning games. We preached how last year our start was bad so to get this kind of start is huge. We just have to keep going with it."
Drysdale delivered the win in dramatic fashion, scoring just moments after Colorado evened the game late in regulation.
Anaheim's sixth overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft began the play, feeding the puck up to Vinni Lettieri at the blue line. The veteran collected the pass, curling away from his defender and leaving the puck along the boards for Drysdale to collect. With open space in front of him, the defenseman streaked into Colorado's zone and unleashed a wrist shot, beating Colorado goalie Trent Miner short-side to deliver the milestone victory.
Drysdale, who collected his first overtime goal, co-leads all rookie defensemen in scoring (2-3=5) and goals and ranks tied for second in assists.
"I think he’s obviously trending in the right direction," head coach Kevin Dineen said. "He’s dynamic offensively. In the flip side of that, he’s very responsible on the defensive side. That’s important. You know, I work for an ex-NHL defenseman (Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray) and Murph looks at that, as do I. When someone is playing responsible and solid like that, it bodes well for their future."
Colorado tied the game late in regulation, evening the score at two with just 13.4 seconds left. With their net empty, Eagles captain Greg Pateryn snuck down from his spot at the point. He collected a rebound off a deflection from Ryan Wagner at the side of the net, elevating the puck over Lukas Dostal. San Diego's goalie got his blocker on it, but he couldn't punch it out of harm's way.
When regulation ended, Dineen said the team took a moment to collect itself before preparing for the overtime session.
"We play in a good league," he explained. "There are good players and good teams. You’ve got some composure and I thought our veteran players did a nice job. We brought in a couple guys in the lineup, Lettieri and Agozzino, and not only did they contribute but I think they give us stability throughout the lineup."
San Diego began the third period with a quick strike, grabbing the one-goal advantage on a Poturalski goal just 21 seconds into the final frame.
The Williamsville, NY native led the rush through the neutral zone, finding Josh Mahura with a pass near the side boards. The Gulls defenseman curled near the goal line, momentarily losing the puck in his skates. He recovered in time to find the streaking Poturalski, who corralled a pass and cut to the front of the net with little resistance.
He held the puck on his forehand, patiently outwaiting Miner and sliding the puck into an empty net for his first goal of the season.
"Coach told us we were going," Poturalski said. "He called our numbers and it’s been a tough start not scoring the first couple games so I was hungry to get to the net. I just chased the puck, trying to support Josh there and I think I lost my guy there. I had more time than I could imagine. I just made a move and put it in. It felt good to help the team get a lead."
Wagner and Agozzino traded goals in the opening frame.
Agozzino - assigned by the Anaheim Ducks before Saturday's win over Colorado - grabbed his first goal of the season with just 21.7 seconds remaining in the period, converting on a power-play chance.
Trevor Zegras held the puck on the wing, snapping shot through a screen that Miner stopped. Agozzino, parked in front, spun around and batted home the rebound to pull San Diego even.
For the fifth straight game, the Gulls allowed their opponent to score the game's first goal. Wagner did the honors in Sunday's game, giving Colorado a 1-0 lead at 6:09 of the first period.
The Park Ridge, IL native held the puck in the offensive zone, curling in the right circle and skating along the boards. He threw a quick shot on net from the goal line that found separation between Dostal and the post, sneaking past the Gulls netminder.
The San Diego netminder recovered from the early score to stop a career-high 43 of 45 shots to earn his fourth consecutive win, becoming the first Gulls goalie to win each of his first four starts with the club. Dostal leads the AHL in saves (152), co-leads in wins (4), ranks second in save percentage (.956, min. 2 GP) and third in goals against average (1.75, min. 2 GP).
San Diego will finish its six-game homestand on Wednesday, February 17 against the Bakersfield Condors at 7 p.m. PT.