In a series that was closer than some of the scores indicate, the Fresno Monsters swept three games in regulation from the San Diego Sabers, opening a 17-point gap between the two teams in the Western Division standings.
Fresno 6, San Diego 3 – The Fresno Monsters led, 4-0, after the first period at Selland Arena on Friday and cruised to a 6-3 win over the visiting San Diego Sabers.
Dustin Truex broke the ice just :42 after the opening faceoff and Petr Philippov scored two of his three goals in the first period.
Despite falling behind by five goals, the Sabers did not stop working. Third period goals by Tyler Balok and David Grindstaff got them as close as 5-3 with 5:43 remaining, but Gustaf Wranghede put the game away for Fresno with just under three minutes left.
Tyler Mathews (15 saves) earned the win for the Monsters. Marshall McKallip made 37 saves for San Diego.
Fresno 6, San Diego 5 – Dustin Truex tied the game with 1:57 remaining, then completed a hat trick with the game-winner with :09 left on the clock as the Monsters rallied from a 5-3 deficit to win, 6-5, on Saturday night.
The Sabers carried a 4-3 lead into the third period, and Zakary Hanaford’s second goal of the game gave them a two-goal lead less than three minutes into the final frame.
It remained a 5-3 game in favor of San Diego until Martin Dlugiolinsky got a huge goal to get the Monsters back within one with 5:25 left to go.
The tying goal from Truex came on a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. Then, with the clock ticking down, Nakita Garin carried the puck across San Diego blue line. He drew two defenders to him, and slid a pass to Petr Philippov as he skated down the left wing. Philippov then hit Truex with a crossing pass as he charged the net, finishing off a beautiful tic-tack-toe passing play for the game-winner.
Fresno 7, San Diego 3 – After letting one slip away the day before, the Sabers came out fired up on Sunday. San Diego had leads of 2-1 and 3-2 in the second period, but the Monsters came charging back to win, 7-3.
Truex scored to tie the game, 3-3, then Garin tallied a huge goal for Fresno with :06 left in the second period. With the Monsters on the power play, Stanislav Danaev controlled the puck in the San Diego zone and curled through the left faceoff circle, drawing three Sabers to him and freeing up space for Garin in the slot. Danaev found him with a pass and Garin buried a 25-foot shot high to the glove side to give the Monsters some jump heading into the locker room for the second intermission.
Zack Turpin scored 1:16 into the third period to give Fresno a two-goal lead and the Monsters rolled from there with Garin adding his second goal of the game later in the period. Truex also scored twice for Fresno.
Fresno’s Max Karlenzig picked up the win, making 23 saves.
San Diego’s Marshall McKallip made 34 saves and Jakub Vesely scored twice for the Sabers.