Patrick Russell scored his first of the series and third point but Andrew Agozzino's hat trick lifted the Eagles past the Condors in Game 2
LOVELAND, CO - The Condors were grounded in Game 2 of their best-of-five series against the Colorado Eagles, losing 4-1 in what was a special teams battle that featured 14 penalties - with seven going to each club.
Condors forward Patrick Russell scored his first of the series and third point, while goalkeeper Shane Starrett made 18 saves on 21 shots but it was Eagles winger Andrew Agozzino who was the difference, scoring a hat trick to propel Colorado to victory.
The Condors host the Eagles in Game 3 on Tuesday. The game can be seen on AHL Live or heard on Fox Sports 970 AM. Puck drop is around 8:08 PM MDT.
Bakersfield went 6-for-7 on the penalty kill and 0-for-7 on the power play - as Russell scored just after a third-period Condors' advantage expired - and allowed one shorthanded goal against.
"There are a few areas in the game that got to be better," said Woodcroft. "They scored on a faceoff, they scored shorthanded and they scored on a power-play regroup and then an empty-net goal.
"Those are areas that can improve for us."
Bakersfield managed to outshoot Colorado 30-22 on the night but couldn't seem to solve Eagles goaltender Pavel Francouz.
"Offensively, I think we can do a little bit of a better job creating more," added Woodcroft.
It was a tight-checking beginning when the puck dropped on Game 2, with the home side opening the scoring on their first shot of the game.
Colorado forward Julien Nantel scooped up a loose puck following a faceoff in the Condors' zone and wasted no time in releasing it short side. The puck leaked through Starrett's right arm and past the goal-line, giving Nantel his first of the postseason at 2:22.
The Condors did their best to keep Francouz busy, leading the shot department 6-1 near the halfway mark of the frame.
Despite the lopsided shots, Colorado had the better opportunities. The club sustained almost two full minutes of pressure on the power play and Logan O'Connor dinged the iron off a give-and-go on the Eagles' second shot of the night.
Then with the Condors on the man advantage, Starrett was forced to stay alive, pushing out to face an A.J. Greer breakaway and stopping the Eagles forward's in-close attempt.
"Special teams is where they're generating most of their offence," pointed out forward Josh Currie. "I think they won that battle tonight and that turned out to be the deciding factor."
Colorado took their 1-0 lead into the middle stanza where they got a shorthanded insurance marker from their regular-season leading scorer Agozzino.
Initially, Agozzino appeared to have scored off the wing while his Eagles were on the kill at 2:33. The 28-year-old fired far side and hit the post but illuminated the red lamp. After video review, the refs concluded that the puck did not cross the line.
The Condors were awarded three consecutive power plays after the reversed call but it was Agozzino who would find twine down a man.
"We kind of had a feeling that today we were going to get more power plays and we had seven," said Currie. "If they're going to take penalties and take liberties on guys, we got to make them pay.
"Unfortunately, we didn't do that tonight."
As he did previously, Agozzino peddled up the wing and released a wrister on Starrett that - this time - found the back of the net at 9:30. The tally gave the Eagles a 2-0 advantage into the third period.
Russell put the Condors on the board at 1:34 of the third just as a power play expired. Defenceman Ethan Bear wound a slap shot up from the point and Russell deflected it before Francouz could make the save, setting the score at 2-1.
But Agozzino put back his second of the night in a similar fashion as his first, walking in and zipping the puck glove side to regain the two-goal lead for Colorado.
"He could have had four on us," said Currie of Colorado's offensive threat Agozzino. "You can't give that guy that much time and that much space. We have to be harder on their top line."
The Condors turned up the momentum as regulation came to a close in an effort to muster the comeback but couldn't crack the Eagles' Czech netminder, who made 10 third-period stops and 29 total.
With just over two minutes to play, Woodcroft pulled Starrett to give the Condors a 5-on-4 advantage but Agozzino was able to corral a loose puck and deposit it into the empty net for his third of the night.
"I don't believe there's any type of momentum carry-over from game to game," said Woodcroft, who will prepare his club for Tuesday's Game 3 at Rabobank Arena. "I think momentum is something you need to re-establish right from the start of a game.
"We've had a strong home record the entire season and we're going to need our best effort come Tuesday night."
All images courtesy of Nicolas Monaghan, Ashley Potts and Jordan Reyes Imagery.