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Condors' late rally falls short in playoff-opening 5-3 loss to Gulls

Sam Carrick scored two power-play goals and Trevor Zegras had a goal and three assists as the San Diego Gulls took control of its Pacific Division semifinal playoff series with a 5-3 victory in Game 1 over the Bakersfield Condors.

The teams play again at 5 p.m. Sunday at Mechanics Bank Arena, with the Condors looking to even the series and avoid elimination in the three-game AHL series. Game 3, if necessary, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday in Bakersfield.

The Gulls opened the scoring late in the first period when a pair of defensemen hooked up for a power-play goal. Carrick followed in a shot in front of the net to beat Condors goalie Stuart Skinner at the 15:24 mark. Skinner stopped the initial shot fired from Jamie Drysdale about five feet in front of the blue line, but Carrick was there to clean up as Bakersfield was a man down after a two-minute penalty on Vincent Desharnais for high-sticking at 14:21 of the period.

Carrick added another power-play goal just 3:10 into the second period, time with a 4-on-3 advantage following a roughing penalty on both teams, followed 30 seconds later by a high-sticking call on Tyler Benson.

Shortly thereafter, Carrick found himself open in front of the net, and finished off a pass from Vinni Lettieri to give the Gulls a 2-0 lead.

The lead grew to three goals late in the second period when Lettieri took a pass from Drysdale and beat Skinner at the 18:43 mark.

Then the Condors made things interesting, scoring twice during a 52-second stretch midway through the third period.

Bakersfield broke up the shutout with a power-play goal of its own midway through the third period when Brad Malone took a pass from Seth Griffith and powered the puck into the back of the net with 10:26 to play.

Griffith then scored on a slap shot eight seconds into another power play to make it 3-2 with 9:34 left in the game.

The Condors had its share of chances to tie, but San Diego regained the momentum — momentarily — when Andrew Agozzino beat Skinner after a centering pass from Zegras with 5:02 left.

Bakersfield pulled within one goal when Tyler Benson scored at the 17:29 mark, but the Gulls survived a late Condors’ barrage, and Zegras finished things off with an empty-net goal.

Trailing 1-0 early, the Condors had their chance for an equalizer when an interference penalty gave them advantage late in the first period, but San Diego goalie Lukas Dostal made several quality saves, part of 11 stops he made in the opening 20 minutes.

Bakersfield had another power-play chance at 12:52 of the second after Nikolas Brouillard was whistled for slashing. But the Gulls’ defense, specifically Dostal made a pair of difficult stops to keep the Condors off the scoreboard.