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Gulls use special teams to snuff out Stars

San Diego’s special teams dominated the second period and sent the Gulls into the next round of the Calder Cup Playoffs with a 6-2 win over the Texas Stars at Valley View Casino Center on Friday night.

The Gulls won the best-of-five series, three games to one, taking the final two games by a combined score of 12-3.

In the second period alone, San Diego scored two power-play goals in the first 1:17, tacked on a shorthanded goal and killed off nearly 11 minutes of Texas power play time.

Chris Mueller broke in and scored seven seconds into the middle period to snap a 1-1 tie, and Antoine Laganiere converted 1:10 later to make it a 3-1 lead for the Gulls.

Texas had a man advantage of its own to try to chip away at the deficit, but Joseph Cramarossa followed up the play on Kyle MacKinnon’s shorthanded rush and buried his second goal of the series to give San Diego a comfortable 4-1 cushion.

A boarding major against Corey Tropp gave the Stars a five-minute power play late in the second – their fourth advantage of the period – but San Diego successfully killed that off as well.

Ondrej Kase tacked on the Gulls’ third power-play goal of the night at 7:34 of the third period, and Cramarossa added an empty-netter at 17:22.

The evening started ominously for San Diego, as both starting goaltender Anton Khudobin and All-Star defenseman Brandon Montour left the game 5:54 in after a goal-mouth collision. Montour returned after the first intermission; Matt Hackett (21 saves) replaced Khudobin in net.

Jack Campbell allowed four goals on 18 shots in 28:20 of work before yielding to Maxime Lagace (17 saves). Brendan Ranford and Brett Ritchie had the goals for Texas in Game 4.

Pacific Division Semifinals – Series “H” (best-of-5) 
P2-San Diego Gulls vs. P3-Texas Stars 
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 21 – San Diego 3, TEXAS 1
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 23 – TEXAS 5, San Diego 1
Game 3 – Thu., Apr. 28 – SAN DIEGO 6, Texas 1
Game 4 – Fri., Apr. 29 – SAN DIEGO 6, Texas 2