Physical play picked up in the second period and Alaska's Ryan Turek lit the lamp midway through. Turek took a pass from Judd Blackwater on the left wing, skated in and gave it up to Brock McBride in the mid slot. Turek headed to the net and got it right back from McBride and slid one past Andrew Perugini for a 1-0 lead at 11:19.
Things continued to heat up from there. The Aces were faced at one point with killing off 93 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time for Stockton, but the Thunder had a mental breakdown and got caught with too many men on the ice.
That wasn't the only breakdown. Late in the period Kelly Czuy got whistled for an iffy offside call on a long pass that would have sprung him for a breakaway.
Czuy was unhappy, but that's nothing compared to Thunder coach Matt Thomas, who appeared to try to climb over the boards to voice his -- let's call it disagreement -- with the call, and had to be restrained by two of his players.
It looked as though referee Gino Binda signaled an unsportsmanlike penalty call at least and an ejection at worst -- after making the "T" signal for unsportsmanlike, Binda made a gesture consistent with an umpire tossing a baseball player -- but there were no ramifications to be had.
Shortly thereafter, Alaska went on the power play and Czuy ended up getting his breakaway after all and wristed a shot up and over the glove of Billy Sauer to even the score at 1-1 with 33.7 seconds left in the period.
That was the spark Stockton needed as the Thunder owned the third period. A neutral zone turnover led to the go-ahead goal. Mark Marquardt snapped off a shot from the right circle in transition that Sauer should have stopped, but nevertheless found its way home.
Less than four minutes later J.F. Caudron supplied what turned out to be the game-winning marker, roofing a rebound of Czuy's shot from left of the goal that kicked off of Sauer's pad.
Bryan Miller gave the Aces life 2 minutes and 10 seconds later, finishing off a good cycle with a blast from the top of the right circle at 8:24 of the third.
But it was not to be. Jason Pitton deflected a slap shot in front of Sauer to extend the lead back to two goals and Anthony Aiello iced it with a 150-foot shot into an empty net.
Nick Mazzolini, the Aces' leading scorer in the regular season, missed Tuesday's game with a variety of injuries sustained in a first-period fight during Game 1.
Mazzolini took a brutal right hand to the face from Stockton's Jordan Benfield, breaking his nose and a bone near his eye. He then fell backward onto the ice hitting his helmetless head and sustained a mild concussion.
He is officially listed as day-to-day and will make the trip to California for the remainder of the series. Lee Green, normally a defenseman and a healthy scratch in Game 1, replaced Mazzolini in the lineup Tuesday.
Stockton was again without winger Colin Hemingway. The former Ace was scratched again due to an undisclosed injury.
Contact Andrew Hinkelman at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @KTUUSports on Twitter.