Condors impress with a 3-2 overtime win over Firebirds on the road

The Condors still need some help to get home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but they at least prove they can compete with the best.
Coachella Valley forward Andrew Poturalski (22) takes a shot on Bakersfield goaltender Olivier
Coachella Valley forward Andrew Poturalski (22) takes a shot on Bakersfield goaltender Olivier / Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY

Whether the Bakersfield Condors have a legitimate shot at winning this season's Calder Cup, is open to debate. Heck, whether they can even get home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs, seems like a tall task at this point.

However, if there is any reason for hope, it's how the Condors have played versus the Coachella Firebirds this season. The Firebirds -- who last season made it all the way to the Calder Cup finals in their first year -- are on course to finish the 2023-24 campaign with the best record in the Western Conference.

Despite this, the Condors have shown they can compete with one of the best teams in the AHL, with a 4-4-0 record versus the Firebirds this season. Making this even more impressive, three of their four wins have come on the road in Coachella.

This includes beating the Firebirds at Acrisure Arena on Friday night, to finish the regular season series. The Condors took a 2-0 lead in the first period, allowed the hosts to come back and tie the game, before winning 3-2 with less than one minute remaining in overtime.

A positive opening

The game couldn't have started much better for the Condors, as they took a 1-0 lead after just 2:28 of the opening period. Sam Gagner controlled the puck behind the Firebirds net, swung around to the left circle and set up Philip Kemp to score his second goal of the AHL campaign.

The Condors doubled their advantage with 2:33 left in the first, as Carter Savoie made it 2-0 on the power play. Xavier Bourgault went flying down the ice and split the Firebirds defense, before passing to Savoie to shoot home.

There was no scoring in the second period, as Olivier Rodrigue kept the hosts at bay. Through 40 minutes he had 16 saves out of 16 shot attempts, while the Condors had just 13 shots on goals.

The Firebirds got back into the game in the third period, by scoring twice in less than two minutes. First, Max McCormick claimed his 32nd goal of the season at the 3:05 mark with a one-timer, on which Rodrigue was screened by a teammate.

The hosts then tied the game just 1:37 later, through Jimmy Schuldt. As fine as his effort was, there's no way he should have scored past Rodrigue, with all five of Condors' skaters in the path of Schuldt's shot.

Regardless, it was 2-2 and the game was still there to be won. Fortunately for Condors fans, Rodrigue and company did not completely fall apart, held onto the tie and forced the game into overtime.

Broberg clinches the second point

Once there, it looked as if the game might be headed to a dreaded shootout. However, Philip Broberg gathered the puck deep in his own half, flew down the right wing without much resistance and calmly scored past Chris Driedger to win the game with 47 seconds remaining in the extra period.

it represented Broberg's third goal in as many games, with him now on a run of 11 total points in his past eight contests. He took home the game's First Star and for the season he has set career AHL bests, with 48 games, five goals, 29 assists and 34 total points.

Meanwhile, Rodrigue continued his own career year, with a team-leading 19 wins, along with 36 games played and a 2.27 Goals Against Average (GAA). On the night he saved 30 of the 32 shots he faced, and is tied-ninth in the AHL with a .915 save percentage.

In terms of facing one of the very best teams in the AHL, it should also be noted Rodrigue is now 3-1-0 versus the Firebirds this season in four starts. In those four starts, he has compiled an impressive .930 save percentage and 2.41 GAA.

On a team level the Condors are now 26-1-1 when leading through 40 minutes and 36-6-2 when at least sharing the lead after two periods. They also went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and have now stopped 61 of the past 63 power plays they've faced.

Next. Dylan Holloway's great game for Oilers changes nothing. Dylan Holloway's great game for Oilers changes nothing. dark

With the win, the Condors remain in sixth position in the Pacific Dividision, three points out of fourth place and home-ice advantage in the first round. They have three regular season games remaining, with their next contest on Wednesday night at home to the Ontario Reign.

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