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Condors force Game 3 with 3-2 OT win over Gulls

Condors playoffs

Condors' forward Adam Cracknell takes a shot during the first period of Sunday's playoff game against the Gulls at Mechanics Bank Arena.

It took the Condors just 49 seconds to extend their season.

That’s when Seth Griffith sent a shot from the left circle past San Diego goaltender Lukas Dostal in overtime for a 3-2 victory over the San Diego Gulls on Sunday night at Mechanic’s Bank Arena.

The victory forced a deciding Game 3 at 6 p.m. Monday at Mechanic’s Bank Arena. The winner will travel to Las Vegas to face the Henderson Silver Knights for the American Hockey League Pacific Division championship.

“It felt good,” Griffith said of coming behind to extend the series. “This is an unorthodox playoffs but guys still want to win. It’s a short two out of three series. Guys want to play, want to win for each other. We’re here to play.”

As for the COVID limited crowd of 1,000 Griffith said they are noticed.

“It’s great,” he said. “There’s a little emotion there which is nice.”

Condors goaltender Stuart Skinner was superb as he stopped 31 shots, many of those Grade A chances. Dostal stopped 34.

“What I saw tonight was somebody that refused to lose,” Condors coach Jay Woodcroft said of Skinner.

“I thought it was a gritty effort, I saw 20 players demonstrate the will and want to keep playing. We found ourselves down as a team but stuck with it and stuck with it. Normally we say it’s a 60-minute plan but tonight it was a one-minute plan. Nice to see us rewarded.”

Trailing 2-1 after two periods, the Condors tied the game with seven minutes and 20 seconds remaining in regulation when Luke Esposito redirected a point shot by Theodor Lennstrom past Dostal.

Two minutes earlier Skinner made one of his many quality saves when he stopped Chase De Leo on a partial breakaway. A San Diego goal would have put the Gulls up 3-1.

Adam Cracknell just missed putting the Condors up 3-2 when he was stopped point blank with four minutes left. The Gulls were then whistled for delay of game as they sent the puck over the glass after that stop, but Bakersfield could not capitalize on the power play.

The Condors had an inauspicious start to the game, taking a pair of penalties in the first two minutes, leading to three minutes of power-play time for the Gulls, including a two-man advantage of 1:04.

But the Condor penalty killers, who allowed three goals on Friday night, buckled down and allowed just two shots to come away unscathed.

The Gulls took a 1-0 lead at 8:21 when Beniot-Olivier Groulx sneaked behind the Condors defense and tapped in a goal from the right edge off a pass before Skinner could even start to move across the crease.

Bakersfield answered that three minutes later when Cooper Marody scored from between the circles off a rebound. That goal was set up by winning a draw in the San Diego zone.

The Gulls went up 2-1 at 15:05 when Trevor Carrick’s shot from the left point found its way through traffic and past a screened Skinner.

Bakersfield out shot the Gulls 16-10 in the period.

It was a shot reversal in the second period as the Condors did not record their first shot on goal until seven minutes had elapsed. San Diego ended up with a 17-8 advantage and Skinner made several quality saves to keep Bakersfield in the game.

Skinner stopped Jamie Drydale’s point-blank shot at 6:30 and 90 seconds later he stopped Groulx from the edge of the crease.

The Condors just missed tying the game midway through the period when Griffith rang a shot off the pipe but did not generate a shot on goal during the rest of the man advantage.

The Condors had a couple of good chances later on, first during a scramble where the puck somehow stayed out of the San Diego net with just under six minutes left then another shot that rang iron a few seconds later.

Skinner’s biggest save might have been with 2:24 left when a wide open Jack Badini, who took a pass from behind the net, fired a shot from between the circles.