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Gulls fall to Wolves in double-OT in Game 4 of Western Conference final

The San Diego Gulls played on a knife’s edge for most of Game 4 of the AHL’s Western Conference final Friday against the Chicago Wolves. Their margin for error was razor thin as the teams skated into a second overtime, deadlocked at a goal apiece.
Ultimately, the Gulls were caught in transition one too many times and paid the price when the Wolves’ Daniel Carr scored 6:01 into the second OT period to give Chicago a 2-1 victory in front of 12,147 at Pechanga Arena. Kevin Boyle simply couldn’t save the Gulls from themselves.
Boyle made 42 saves, but he couldn’t stop Carr’s shot that capped an odd-man rush as the Gulls got caught up ice. Justin Kloos had scored the tying goal for the Gulls at 3:36 of the third period, forcing the teams to overtime for the second time in four games in the series.
“He kept us in it and he had one hell of a night,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said of Boyle. “I thought he was excellent in the net. That game could have been three or four to nothing after two periods and he kept us close enough that we could get it tied up.”
The Gulls, the Ducks’ AHL team, and the Wolves, the Vegas Golden Knights’ top minor-league affiliate, are tied 2-2 in the best-of-7 series. Game 5 is Saturday in San Diego. Game 6, which is now necessary, will be played Monday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.
The winner of the Gulls-Wolves series faces the winner of the Eastern Conference final between the Charlotte Checkers and the Toronto Marlies. The Checkers took a 3-2 series lead over the Marlies with a 4-1 victory Friday at Toronto.
Kloos scored on a quick shot from the edge of the right faceoff circle to tie the score 1-1 only 3:36 into the third. Jack Kopacka sent a backhanded pass into an open patch of ice and Kloos skated onto the puck and beat Wolves goalie Oscar Dansk.
The Gulls opened Game 4 by outshooting the Wolves by 5-1, but they couldn’t maintain their early energy and momentum. By the end of a scoreless first period, the Gulls were outshot 15-9, and only the superb play of Boyle prevented them from trailing by a goal or more.
Chicago continued to dominate play to start the second, testing Boyle repeatedly until the Wolves’ Griffin Reinhart slammed a shot into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead at 4:17. Boyle stopped the Wolves’ first 20 shots, but he was helpless to stop Reinhart as he skated into the slot and scored.
San Diego chased the game for most of the first two periods before finally stringing three or four quality shifts together in the closing minutes of the second. The Gulls were outshot 16-3 in the second and by 31-12 going into the third.
“We had a terrible start the first two periods,” Gulls defenseman Jaycob Megna said. “We couldn’t seem to get anything going. It didn’t seem like we wanted it or were as desperate as they were. We came out in the third period and I thought we showed a lot more desperation. We played a lot better.
“You get into overtime and it’s anyone’s game.”
Boyle went into the game with a 3-0 record, a 2.06 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in the playoffs, having regained the No. 1 goaltender’s position in favor of Jeff Glass after shutting out the Wolves in Game 2 at Rosemont.
Boyle didn’t play in five straight because of a head injury suffered in Game 2 of the Gulls’ second-round series victory over the Bakersfield Condors. The Gulls eliminated the Condors in six games and advanced to their first conference finals in the fourth season of the franchise.
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