Seven times in the past 15 games, the Bakersfield Condors have had the opportunity to claw their way to .500 and attempt to climb the ladder in the AHL Pacific Division.
Seven times they have come up short.
The latest came in agonizing fashion on Saturday night at Rabobank Arena as Joey LaLeggia tied the game late in the third period, only to have the Texas Stars score 20 seconds into overtime for a 4-3 win.
“We battled back hard in the third, it’s a little bit disappointing we didn’t get the extra point tonight,” Condors coach Gerry Fleming said.
LaLeggia drew the Condors even with 2:09 left in regulation when his shot from the top of the right circle deflected off a defenseman and past MIke McKenna.
McKenna then robbed LaLeggia with 36 seconds left after Josh Currie, who was taken down on the play, made a nice pass from his knees.
The Condors would have gone on a power play at that point, but Currie retaliated with a slash, negating the power play.
“(McKenna) made a big save on Joey there, they get a penalty on it and we take an undisciplined penalty right after,” lamented Fleming. “You’ve got to suck it up at that point regardless of what the guy did to you … as a result it eliminated our power play.”
Brian Flynn’s goal in overtime was the final dagger.
The Stars were coming off a 3-1 loss in San Jose on Friday night then bussed to Bakersfield, but it was the Condors who started slow as Matt Magene scored on Eddie Pasquale 1:36 into the opening period on a shot from a bad angle to give Texas a 1-0 lead.
“We looked like the team that traveled all night,” Fleming said. “We talked about getting on these guys early and it goes off a stick and a skate it it just seemed to deflate us. It took us a while to get going again but we battled hard in the third and got the point.”
The Condors came out flying to open the second, spent the entire first shift in the Texas zone and drew a power play.
That led to a power-play goal by Iiro Pakarinen 1:25 into the period to tie the game at 1.
But the Stars countered and Flynn scored off a goalmouth scramble on a power play at 5:42 to put the Stars back on top 2-1. The Stars kept the pressure on and capitalized on another power play with Denis Gurianov getting the goal for a 3-1 lead at 12:27.
The tide turned back in Bakersfield’s favor after that as the Condors started firing shots on goal — five on a power play that started with about five minutes left.
A quick up-ice rush less than a minute after the power play expired cut the Texas lead to 3-2 when Kyle Platzer hammered in a rebound at 17:28 after Mike McKenna made a great save on a shot by Mitch Callahan.
The Condors (11-12-4-0) will have an eighth opportunity to draw even at .500 when they host Ontario on Wednesday night.