Gulls down Barracuda 4-2, take 2-1 series lead

Photo credit: @sjbarracuda

By Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Despite getting two goals from forward Jon Martin, it wasn’t enough for the San Jose Barracuda as the San Diego Gulls held on for a 4-2 victory in Game 3 of their best of five series on Monday night at SAP Center.

It’s now a do-or-die situation for San Jose as they face their first elimination game on Wednesday night.

San Jose (1-2) drew first blood early in the first period. Matt Fonteyne led a three-on-two rush down the right lane. He fed a pass to an incoming Martin, who skated in and using the Gulls defender as a screen, and snapped a wrist shot past the five-hole of Gulls goalie Jeff Glass (2-1) for his second goal of the playoffs at the 2:48 mark.

San Diego (2-1) scored the equalizer right at the end of the opening 20 minutes. Sam Carrick carried the puck behind the net and fed a centering pass to a wide open Sam Steel, who one-timed the puck into the top left corner for his second goal of the playoffs at the 19:21 mark.

Cuda goalie Josef Korenar (1-2) was impressive in the first period, stopping 11 of the 12 shots he faced including two separate point-blank chances from Kalle Kossila in the first five minutes and Kiefer Sherwood in the last five minutes.

San Diego gained their first lead of the game on the power play early in the second period. A shot from the point bounced around a scrum in front of the net. Ben Street collected the puck skated out to the middle of the circles and fired a wrist shot into the top right corner, beating a screened Korenar for his first goal of the playoffs at the 3:41 mark. Max Jones and Carrick were credited with assists.

The Gulls extended their lead to 3-1 when Justin Kloos led a two-on-one odd man rush down the left wing. He found a wide open Chase De Leo, who skated in all alone and made a fore-hand to back-hand move sliding the puck just underneath the glove of Korenar, for his third goal of the playoffs at the 16:47 mark.

“It didn’t seem like a playoff game for some of em,” a disappointed head coach Roy Sommer said regarding his team’s performance. “I was kind of disappointed in half our forwards were engaged and half the defensemen.”

The Cuda cut the deficit to a goal when Jon Martin scored his second goal of the evening.  Jacob Middleton’s shot from the slot hit the post and the rebound caromed over to Maxim Letunov that bounced off his stick over to Martin, who was camped out just to the left of the net and he buried the puck top-shelf for his third goal of the playoffs at the 18:44 mark.

It’s always nice to contribute (offensively),” said Martin. “Our linemates Maxi (Letunov) and Matty (Fonteyne) were flying out, they made things nice and easy. It starts on our end. We’re getting the pucks out and getting on the fore-check.

Adam Cracknell sealed the deal with an empty-net goal after Steel won the race to a loose puck and centered it to a wide-open Cracknell.

“You know what our backs are against the wall now,” said Cuda captain John McCarthy. “We gotta worry about Wednesday, take a look at it (the video) tomorrow, figure out what we gotta fix (in our game) and go from there.”

Glass made 20 saves, including two back-to-back saves with three minutes left in regulation, on 22 shots to earn his second win of the playoffs. Korenar made 32 saves on 35 shots in suffering the tough luck loss.

GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0/1 on the power play. San Diego was 1/4.

Evan Weinger snapped his two-game point streak. The rookie forward still leads the Cuda in points in the series with four.

The announced attendance was 5,848.

UP NEXT: Game 4 is on Wednesday, April 24 at 7:00 pm at SAP Center.

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