ESTERO, Fla. — Seven different players scored a goal and five players had multiple points as the Florida Everblades continued their dominance over the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, their South Division rivals, on Wednesday night with a 7-3 victory at Hertz Arena.
Florida (24-7-5-0, 53 pts.) had a big night on special teams, scoring three times on the power play and once shorthanded to beat Greenville (14-20-3-2, 33 pts.) for the 12th straight time in the regular season dating back to last season.
After Dylan Vander Esch scored just 90 seconds into the game for Greenville, Florida tallied seven of the final nine goals in the game, the second consecutive contest it has posted seven tallies.
The ‘Blades answered with a goal only seven seconds into a power play to tie the game at one with 4:03 to play in the first. Tommy Thompson won a faceoff back to Josh Wesley, who sent the puck across to Logan Roe on the opposite point. Roe cut to the top of the right circle and wristed a shot that beat Greenville goaltender Chris Nell (32 saves) on his glove side. Roe’s goal was his second of the year and second in as many games.
Florida netted its second power-play goal at the 18:34 mark of the first period to take the lead into the intermission. Patrick Bajkov scored his first with Florida after a scramble in front of the net ensued. The puck bounced out from the net front chaos to Bajkov at the left side of the crease for a chip shot to the back of the twine.
Less than five minutes into the second period, Greenville evened the game at two when Austen Brassard came from behind the net and passed it to Adam Larkin in the right circle for a shot that beat Florida’s Jamie Phillips blocker side.
The ‘Blades regained the lead at 11:54 of the second period off a goal from Kyle Platzer, his first of three points in the game. After a rebound bounced out into the crease, Michael Neville tied up his man to create a screen on Nell. With the puck loose, Platzer swooped in to pick it up and quickly went to his backhand to put it past Nell and give the ‘Blades a 3-2 advantage.
Matt Finn added to the lead on a four-on-three power play late in the second. Sneaking down low to the circle, Finn received a pass from Kyle Platzer that he one-timed on net. Initially, the puck was stopped by Nell, but the puck ricocheted off Greenville defenseman Sean Flanagan into his own net.
Joe Cox, who was named to the Eastern Conference all-star roster on Monday, added another goal fifty seconds later on a tic-tac-toe tap-in set up by Platzer.
Justin Auger then started a three-goal sequence in less than a minute in the early stages of the third, tabbing the ‘Blades sixth goal on a shorthanded score. After blazing down the right-wing boards, Auger wired a shot past the blocker of Nell two minutes, 13 seconds into the final stanza.
The Swamp Rabbits answered 44 seconds later with a goal from Brassard, but Florida had the final tally of the night only 14 seconds after Brassard’s score to reinstate its four-goal lead. Nell misplayed the puck behind his own net, and Shane Walsh helped Florida capitalize on the miscue. He stole the puck and sent it across an empty net mouth to Brian Morgan for the tap-in.
Platzer (1g-2a), Thompson (3a), Wesley (3a), Cox (1g-1a), and Neville (2a) all had multi-point games in the win for Florida.
Phillips picked up his 14th win of the season by stopping 22 of the 25 shots he faced.
Following a day off on Thursday, Florida resumes the three-game set with Greenville on Friday at 7:30 p.m. before a 7 p.m. series finale on Saturday.
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The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes