Rob MacInnis, acquired from Albany last week in a trade, scored with only 34 seconds left in overtime Saturday night to give the Gulls a 4-3 victory over the Peoria Rivermen in front of 8,832.
MacInnis took a pass from Ron Duguay at the right faceoff circle and fired a slap shot past Peoria goalie Pat Jablonski.
“Obviously this was a very big win for us, but we don’t want to get too high after one game,” Gulls Coach Mike O’Connell said.
Western Division leader Peoria (34-9-2), which won 18 consecutive games earlier in the season, had beaten the Gulls in their previous three meetings.
With the victory, the Gulls (23-22-4) tied Phoenix for the third place in the Western Division. With 50 points, the Gulls are just two points back of second-place Salt Lake.
After losing to Indianapolis 8-2 Friday night, the Gulls finished the road trip with a 3-2 record and have won five of their last seven games. Although San Diego has been on the road for much of the past two months, 18 of the Gulls next 27 games will be played at the San Diego Sports Arena.
The Gulls and Peoria traded goals in the first period. Robbie Nichols scored his fourth for the Gulls unassisted.
Steve Tuttle scored for Peoria to make it 2-1, but the Gulls responded with two goals 18 seconds apart to take a 3-2 lead.
Taylor Hall scored his 12th on an assist Steve Martinson to make it 2-2. Then, Gord Walker scored his third on an assist from MacInnis and Dennis Holland.
Peoria tied it at three 1:07 into the third period on a goal by Randy Starta.
Gulls goalie Alain Chevrier stopped 20 of 23 shots to improve to 6-8. He had lost seven of his last eight games.