Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Despite the best regular season start in the four years in Silicon Valley, the San Jose Barracuda weren’t able to do enough to force a Game 5 as their season came to an end in a 5-2 loss to the San Diego Gulls in Game 4 of their best of five series on Wednesday evening at SAP Center.
A couple of bad turnovers resulted in San Diego capitalizing on their chances and were the difference in the game. San Diego awaits the winner of the Bakersfield-Colorado series while San Jose will have time to think about failing to get out of the first round, despite being the number two seed.
San Jose (1-3) got off to the quick start they desired 50 seconds into the game. Lukas Radil brought the puck into the Gulls zone and gave it off to Alexander True. The Danish forward skated around to the left circle and fired a wrist shot that sneaked under the five-hole of Gulls goalie Jeff Glass (3-1) for his first goal of the playoffs.
“I’ve been more comfortable this year going into my second year,” said True. “Everybody in the organization, all my teammates, everyone around here has done a good job letting me develop and I can’t thank everyone around here enough for that.”
San Diego (3-1) scored the equalizer late in the opening 20 minutes. Corey Tropp picked up a loose puck behind the net and quickly centered a pass out in front to a wide-open Sam Carrick, who one-timed the puck past Cuda goalie Josef Korenar (1-3) in a bang-bang play for his second goal of the playoffs at 15:46 mark.
San Jose had the ice tilted in their favor for the first 15 minutes as they had a 10-1 shot advantage at one point. However, San Diego gained momentum in the final five minutes and closed the gap to 11-10 heading into the first intermission.
The Gulls gained their first lead early on in the second period while on the power play. Sam Steel fed a pass over to Kalle Kossila, who found Andy Welinsky at the left point and fired a slap shot past the short side of Korenar for his first goal of the playoffs at the 3:43 mark.
San Diego extended their lead to 3-1 after a failed clearing attempt by San Jose. Steel happened to be in the right place at the right time when Max Jones deflected the puck right to Steel in the middle of the circles and wired a wrist shot into the top left corner for his third goal of the playoffs at the 6:43 mark.
“It’s disappointing,” said Cuda captain John McCarthy on the early playoff exit. “I think it’s important to remember how this feels. To have the regular season like we had and then to fade in the playoff is disappointing for sure.”
San Jose cut the deficit to one goal on the power play. Dylan Gambrell back-handed a pass over to the left point where Nick DeSmone was waiting. DeSimone skated into the middle and fired a laser past Glass for his first goal of the playoffs at the 13:39 mark. McCarthy received the secondary assist.
San Diego controlled the play for most of the middle frame out shooting San Jose 13-9.
The Gulls opened the third period by doubling their lead thanks to another failed clearing attempt by the Cuda. Jack Kopacka intercepted a pass at the blue line, skated down the left wing and sent a cross-ice pass over to Matt Berry. Berry then sent a pass in front of the net that Adam Cracknell tipped in past Korenar for his second goal of the playoffs at the 5:12 mark.
“Had a really good regular season,” said Cuda head coach Roy Sommer. “I thought we were solid, did a lot of good things. And then in the playoffs I didn’t think we had enough (to advance).”
Chase De Leo iced the game and the series for San Diego with an empty-net goal with 1:53 left in the game.
Glass made 30 saves on 32 shots to earn his 4th win of the series. Korenar finished with 25 saves on 29 shots in suffering the defeat in what was a stellar rookie season.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1/2 on the power play. San Diego was 1/3.
San Diego’s Max Jones suffered a lower body injury when with 2:39 left in the second period when he received a hard hit along the boards in front of his team’s bench.
The announced attendance was 3,175.