SAN DIEGO, Calif. – In the second night of a back-to-back, netminder Anthony Stolarz was returned to the taxi squad and Lukas Dostal was sent back to the Gulls to get his fourth start of the season. Brayden Tracey was also inserted back into the line-up with veteran forward Matt Lorito given the night off to make room. The line-juggling continued as Andrew Poturalski was moved up to the first line to play alongside Trevor Zegras and Sam Carrick.
The first period started out well for the Gulls as they controlled play in the Colorado zone for the first three shifts but their slowly building momentum was stopped when Brayden Tracey was called for tripping. The rookie forward carelessly missing a poke-check and having an Eagle player step on his errant stick. San Diego were able to kill the minor and allowed just one shot on goal during the sequence but the Eagles built on their sudden increase in possession and got the games first goal once again courtesy of Ryan Wagner who fired a severe angle shot coming off the left boards that caught Dostal by surprise and gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
The Gulls went right back to the attack and generated some opportunities – including a chance in front for BO Groulx but once again their offensive trajectory ended when a defensive miscue by Jack Badini lead to him needing to take a slashing penalty to prevent the Eagles a scoring opportunity. Groulx bravely got in front of a Greg Pateryn blast and was in obvious discomfort but saw out the rest of his shift as the Gulls killed the minor.
San Diego earned their first power play chance as Jacob Perreault drew a call in the Colorado end and on the delayed penalty, Trevor Zegras almost created a highlight-reel goal all on his own but the Eagles netminder snuffed it out. The power play looked good – with some nice puck movement – but also tried to force that one extra pass on one too many occasions. One example being Brayden Tracey alone in a scoring area but opting to pass across the crease for the backdoor play.
None the less the Gulls went right back to the man advantage as the Eagles were called for holding on a San Diego rush led by Vinni Lettieri and Antoine Morand. On this power play, the Gulls went back to basics, setting up in the diamond and as the puck got to Zegras in the high slot he fired a quick hard wrist shot that was going top right corner but was stopped by the right shoulder of the Eagles netminder, the puck dropped perfectly for Andrew Agonzzino parked in front and he slid it in to tie things up in the final minute of the period to tie the game at 1-1.
Teams headed to the first intermission knotted at one up but with the Gulls holding a shot advantage 12-8.
The first five minutes of the second went by in a blur with the Gulls enjoying the majority of possession and the Eagles looking to force mistakes via a weak neutral zone trap. Trevor Zegras creating a lot of the more dangerous plays with additional opportunities from Andrew Agozzino and Jacob Perreault but the Eagles managed to keep the score even.
San Diego ran the Colorado zone for the next six or so minutes but continued to be frustrated by the Eagles until a goal mouth scramble that was once again thwarted by Colorado ended in Zegras taking a boarding penalty seemingly out of frustration as play headed back up ice.
Dostal calmly turned aside all Colorado attempts on net during the penalty kill and as Zegras broke out of the box he flew into the Colorado zone to set up a chance but again the Eagles goaltender was equal to it. San Diego were dinged on another call as Groulx was the guilty party this time and it started to feel like the Gulls were starting to play with fire.
Again, the Gulls kept the Eagles from getting any dangerous chances with the man advantage and in the dying seconds of the minor, Andrew Poturalski drew a call to even things up as he made it obvious that he was being obstructed at the Gulls blue line. The penalty parade continued and the messy end to the middle frame sent both teams to their respective dressing rooms tied up at one and shots 25-24 for the Gulls.
San Diego wasted no time to start the third, breaking through on the carried-over four on three as Poturalski was allowed too much time and room down low to cut across the front and fake out the Eagles goaltender to easily tuck the puck in and gave the Gulls a 2-1 Gulls lead.
Play reverted back to a chippy battle for the ice for the next ten minutes and tempers started to flare as the physical play in turn picked up.
Colorado slowly retook the lead in shots in the war of attrition, bit by bit forcing the Gulls into uncharacteristic errors. San Diego briefly turned the tide with some good shifts from the top two lines in the Colorado zone but Zegras was found guilty of another call as he knocked the stick out of an Eagles players hand with a high swipe.
San Diego killed the penalty and both teams continued to exchange chances as time wound down. The Gulls looked to be doing a good job of closing things out and keeping the puck in the Eagles zone whenever they could when Trevor Carrick took a very bad penalty as he cross checked an Eagles player at the player benches behind the play. A completely unnecessary and stupid penalty to take with just over two minutes left in a 3-2 game.
Colorado pulled their goaltender to make it a six-on-four and wore down the Gulls penalty kill as they kept the puck in their zone for what seemed like a full minute of the two minute minor. Eventually resulting in some last minute heroics for the visitors as they got to a rebound and chipped it over the top of Dostal before the tired Gulls defense could scramble to his aid.
Thankfully San Diego avoided what could have been an undeserved and embarrassing loss as Jamie Drysdale received a pass with speed entering the Colorado zone, easily swinging by his man and firing a hard shot that beat the Colorado goaltender clean to win the game in the first fifteen seconds of the extra session, to give the Gulls a 3-2 win.
Post Game Notes:
With the win the Gulls set a new record for hottest start to the season with five straight wins. They now sit atop the Pacific in points with ten and equal in points percentage with Henderson and Tuscon.
Jamie, Jamie, Jamie
With the game-winner, Jamie Drysdale moved into a tie for first in scoring among defenders with Henderson’s Ryan Murphy and Thomas Harley of the Texas Stars. Think this kid should be in Junior?
Zegras Keeping Pace
After a relatively quiet showing the night before Trevor Zegras earned another point to move back into a tie for first in scoring league-wide. He now has seven points in five games, tied with Michael Bunting at the top of the table.
Dostal First Star Again
Lukas Dostal quietly picked up yet another first star as he stopped 43 of 45 shots. The first goal might have been a slight lapse in concentration but he was definitely a factor in making sure the Gulls did not fall behind as Colorado eased ahead in shots.