ESTERO, Fla. — Blake Winiecki scored his team-leading ninth goal of the postseason, but the Newfoundland Growlers scored five unanswered goals to take a 2-0 series lead with a 5-1 win over the Florida Everblades on Saturday at Hertz Arena.
The Everblades (8-4-1) held a 1-0 lead after the first period, but the Growlers (10-3-1) scored four times in the second en route to their second straight win to start the series.
The ‘Blades got on the board for the first time in the series at 10:17 of the first period on their first power play of the night, scoring just 17 seconds into the man advantage. After Alex Tonge fed the puck back to Michael Downing at the point, Downing made a deke and then blasted a shot that Blake Winiecki deflected past Newfoundland goaltender Michael Garteig.
Booth came up huge for the ‘Blades early in the second when they were on the penalty kill. With Zach O’Brien open at the back door less than five feet from the crease, Booth made a sweeping glove save to keep Florida up one.
But the Growlers rattled off four straight goals before the end of the middle frame to take a three-goal lead to the second intermission.
The Growlers’ first score came right after their power play ended. Newfoundland entered the zone with a three-on-two rush, and Josh Kestner sent a pass to Scott Pooley in the left circle for a one-timer that Booth initially got a pad on as he sprawled out. But the rebound came right back to the stick of Pooley, and he flipped it over Booth to tie the game.
The Growlers took the lead only 1:35 after Pooley tied the game. Giorgio Estephan stole the puck off a turnover at center ice and flipped it to Kestner. Kestner took the puck into the zone on a breakaway and beat Booth to give Newfoundland a lead it didn’t relinquish.
The Growlers extended their lead with a power-play goal at 11:30 of the second period to snap a streak of 33 consecutive penalty kills for Florida. Marcus Power put back a rebound after Booth made the initial save to extend Newfoundland’s lead to 3-1.
The Growlers added a fourth goal with 1:43 to play in the second period. JJ Piccinich scored off an odd-man rush sequence, lifting a feed from Pooley over Booth to advance the Growlers' lead to three.
Still down 4-1 with four minutes to play in the game, the ‘Blades pulled Booth for the extra attacker but couldn’t find the back of the net. Newfoundland’s Hudson Elynuik struck on the empty net to seal the Growlers' win.
Booth made 25 saves in the loss for Florida, while Garteig finished with 34 stops.
The series now transitions to Newfoundland for Games 3, 4, and 5, if necessary. Game 3 is set for 5:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
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