The San Jose Barracuda took a 2-1 lead over the San Diego Gulls in the teams’ Pacific Divison Finals series, thanks to Timo Meier’s overtime winner. San Jose tied the game on three separate occasions, and sent the game to an extra frame when Danny O’Regan buried a rebound with 1:01 left in regulation.
San Diego came out of the gates firing, outshooting San Jose 11-3 in the first 20 minutes. The Gulls’ possession dominance briefly translated into a lead, as 2016 Ducks first round pick Max Jones opened the scoring with his first professional goal just over 16-and-a-half minutes into the game.
At the time of Jones’ goal, the Barracuda had all of one shot on goal to their name. Two shots and 52 seconds later, Kevin Labanc equalized on his second goal of the postseason, depositing a blocked Joakim Ryan shot from the left point into the back of the net.
In his first game back from a brief call-up to the NHL for the injury-riddled Ducks, Sam Carrick put the Gulls up by one two minutes shy of the midway point of the period. Carrick, with nothing but time and space ahead of him in the low slot, went upstairs on Barracuda goaltender Troy Grosenick to give San Diego a 2-1 lead.
The Gulls’ second lead lasted late into the third period, until Colin Blackwell tied the game with 7:11 remaining in regulation. Blackwell’s behind-the-net feed fortunately bounced off of a Gulls player in front of the net and past San Diego goaltender Jhonas Enroth to even the score at two goals apiece.
Spencer Abbott put the Gulls back up one with his first goal of the postseason just shy of four minutes later. Jones picked up his second point of the night, and the second of his professional career, with what could have been the Gulls’ game-winner, if not for the heroics of Danny O’Regan.
With just over a minute remaining in regulation and goaltender Troy Grosenick pulled, Timo Meier dumped the puck into the Gulls’ zone. The puck eventually worked to the stick of defenseman Mirco Mueller, whose point shot rebounded to O’Regan in front of the net for the game-tying goal with just 61 seconds left in the third period.
San Jose and San Diego traded chances for the first 17-and-a-half minutes of the extra period, until overtime became Timo time. Timo Meier gathered a loose puck, stickhandled around Gulls defenseman Andrew Welenski, and chipped it past Enroth for the game-winning goal, sending the San Diego fans to the exits.
The Barracuda can match the record for postseason wins by a Sharks AHL affiliate, and more importantly move one game closer to advancing to the Conference Final for the first time in affiliate history, with a win on Friday, when the series resumes in San Diego.