When the Bakersfield Condors beat the Ontario Reign 6-2 towards the end of January, they were in the ascendancy. They had a record of 10-1-3 in 14 contest, with the fifth-best points percentage in the Western Conference and still with at least five games in hand on everyone above them in the standings.
On an individual level, the 6-2 win in Ontario continued the renaissance of Jack Campbell. After previously playing so poorly that he'd lost his starting job in Bakersfield, the victory over the Reign represented his fourth straight win, producing a 2.01 GAA and 0.939 save percentage in the process.
Since that game at Toyota Arena however, the Condors have been in a bit of a slump. Along these lines, Wednesday night saw them lose their third game in four contests, as they came up short versus the Roadrunners.
The 3-2 loss also represented the Condors' first regulation home defeat in 10 games at Mechanics Bank Arena. Making it even more frustrating, was the fact they had the lead going into the third period.
Second best in the first
The Roadrunners admittedly had the better of the play during the opening 20 minutes, as they outshot their hosts 13-10. Despite their advantage though, they were only able to get past Campbell once.
At the same time Campbell should have done better to stop Colin Theisen's long-range wrist shot at the 16:24 mark. Regardless, the visitors found themselves 1-0 up after the first period.
The second period saw the Condors come storming back into the contest, as they dominated with a 15-9 edge in shots on goal. They finally broke through just before the halfway point of the contest, to tie the contest at 1-1 courtesy of a power play.
Philip Broberg recorded his 16th assist with the Condors on the primary helper, but Seth Griffith did all the hard work as he fired home with a shot that gave Matthew Villalta no chance. Griffith has been on fire of late with 11 points in his past seven games, and he now leads the Condors on the season with 30 points.
The Condors continued to push forward and took their first -- and only -- lead of the night with just 23 seconds remaining in the middle period. In truth Matvey Petrov had no business scoring from such an acute angle on the left wing, but you'll take a goal any way you can and it was 2-1 to the home side through 40 minutes.
It falls apart in the final 20 minutes
The Condors struggled to create opportunities during the final period with just five shots on goal, and it would ultimately come back to cost them. The Roadrunners scored twice in a spell of just 66 seconds, to retake a lead they would not relinquish.
The tying goal came thanks to a pinpoint defence-splitting pass from Jan Jenik on the power play. Nathan Smith latched onto it, to calmly beat Campbell at the 12:23 mark of the third period.
Then Jenik turned scorer, as he tipped home to give the visitors the 3-2 advantage. In fairness to Campbell, he could do little about either of the third period goals by the Roadrunners.
When it was all said and done, Campbell had suffered his first loss in six starts. On the night he stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced, for a .903 save percentage.
The coach's take
Postgame, Condors coach Colin Chaulk discussed about how the contest seemed to lack energy, but they still let one get away from them. Speaking to the media, he said:
"I felt like it was a sleepy game from both teams, there wasn't a lot going on. Both teams didn't have a lot of jam, there wasn't a lot of motion. But you're winning 2-1 with (around) seven minutes left and you take another o-zone penalty. We need to keep our sticks on the ice and be better disciplined there. A missed assignment and it's in the back of the net. Next thing you know they get one off a screen and now suddenly you're chasing the game."
Chaulk complimented the penalty kill and Campbell, but overall it was a game of lost opportunity for him and his players. Petrov earned the game's Third Star, thanks to his speculative goal.
With the loss the Condors drop to 19-13-4 on the season and remain eighth in the Pacific Division, but still with at least four games in hand on everyone above them. Next up they travel to Texas this weekend, for a double-header versus the Stars.