ESTERO, Fla. — Nathan Perkovich scored twice in regulation, and he and Blake Winiecki both struck in the shootout, to help the Florida Everblades outlast the Orlando Solar Bears, 5-4, in a shootout on Wednesday night at the Amway Center.
In the final meeting between the two teams in Orlando, the Solar Bears (33-21-4-1, 71 pts.) overcame a three-goal deficit to force overtime, but Florida (43-15-5-0, 91 pts.) won the shootout, 2-1, to equal its longest winning streak of the season with its sixth straight victory.
Florida scored first for the seventh time in 10 games against Orlando. Pressuring in the offensive zone on the forecheck, Shane Walsh picked off a pass in the slot and then snuck his shot past Orlando goaltender Connor Ingram just seven minutes, 46 seconds into the first.
Orlando tied the score at one on the ninth goal of the year from Troy Bourke. After a shot from Otto Somppi deflected off bodies in the slot, Bourke gathered the puck and slid it low past the blocker side of Florida rookie netminder Jeremy Helvig.
Florida grabbed the lead back by scoring three straight times, which included a power-play goal from Philippe Hudon to give the ‘Blades a 2-1 lead. From the near wall, Logan Roe fed Patrick McCarron in the high slot, and McCarron ripped a shot on goal. Hudon deflected the shot from the low slot with 7:47 left in the first for his first career pro goal.
Perkovich netted each of the next two goals to turn it into a 4-1 Florida lead. The veteran forward forced a turnover along the right goal line extended to start the sequence on his first goal. He made Ingram lunge out for the puck and then went to his backhand to slide it into the vacated net at the 5:56 mark of the second.
On a power play less than a minute and a half later, Perkovich scored again to increase the lead to three. His shot from the inside edge of the left circle clipped Orlando defenseman Kevin Lohan and tumbled past Ingram, which ended his night and brought in backup goaltender Corbin Boes.
Orlando scored three straight goals to tie the game before the second intermission. Tayler Thompson started the comeback with a turnaround shot from the slot with 5:45 to play in the second.
With a delayed penalty call coming against Florida, Otto Somppi redirected Kevin Lohan’s initial shot from the high slot while standing at the side of the net to bring the game back within one only 47 seconds after Thompson’s goal.
Cody Donaghey then evened the game at four with a five-on-three power-play strike with 22 seconds to play in the middle frame.
After a scoreless third period and overtime session, Perkovich scored in the shootout’s first round and Winiecki scored in the second round to lift the ‘Blades to the win.
In addition to stopping two of the three shots in the shootout, Helvig made 26 saves during regulation to earn his fifth straight win, his 23rd victory of the season.
Perkovich’s two-goal game was his fourth of the season and third in his last six contests.
Florida has the day off on Thursday before facing the Atlanta Gladiators on Friday at Infinite Energy Arena. The game gets underway at 7:35 p.m. ET.
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