ESTERO, Fla. — The Florida Everblades scored three unanswered goals and overcame a deficit in the last five minutes of the third period to topple the Orlando Solar Bears, 3-2, on Wednesday night at Hertz Arena.
Facing a 2-1 deficit late in the third, Florida (6-3-0-0, 12 pts.) scored twice in a span of 34 seconds to earn its second straight win over Orlando (3-5-0-1, 7 pts.) and improved to 3-0-0-0 on home ice.The ‘Blades tied the game at two on Ben Masella’s first goal of the season with 4:21 left in the third. Following a faceoff win from John McCarron, Masella picked up the puck in the high slot, slid past an Orlando player and then fired a shot along the ice through Orlando goaltender Clint Windsor’s five-hole.
Florida sailed ahead on Justin Auger’s team-leading fifth goal of the season only a half-minute later. Blake Winiecki fed Auger on the outside edge of the right circle, and Auger lasered a wrist shot to the same side to beat Windsor high on his glove side for what proved to be the game-winning strike.
The Solar Bears grabbed the lead with a goal late in the first period. Peter Abbandonato won a face-off cleanly to Michael Brodzinski who ripped a shot over the blocker of Everblades goaltender Cam Johnson.
Mikhail Shalagin then converted from the inside edge of the right circle on a one-time feed from behind the net to push Orlando ahead 2-0 in the first six minutes of the second period. Shalagin’s tally was his first professional goal.
Florida bounced back to get on the board before the end of the second period. After failing to convert on a four-on-one zone rush, the ‘Blades kept the pressure in the offensive zone. Blake Winiecki tapped the puck down the left wall to McCarron, and he fired a sharp-angle shot from the left corner that squeaked past Windsor with 1:57 left in the second.
The Everblades then outshot the Solar Bears by 10 (16-6) in the third period to help aid their sixth comeback win of the season.
Johnson turned away 26 shots, including several key stops to keep Florida within reach, and earned his second win of the season. Windsor suffered his first loss of the year despite making 35 saves on 38 shots.
‘BLADES BITESThe line of Blake Winiecki, John McCarron, and Justin Auger was on the ice for all three of Florida’s goals. The trio combined for two goals and four assists…McCarron's three-point game was the highest single-game point total by a Florida player this season...The ‘Blades improved to 6-1-0-0 when outshooting opponents and held a 38-28 edge in shots on goal…Florida is now tied for first place in the South Division with 12 points...Florida set a new season-best by scoring the two goals 34 seconds apart. The Everblades' previous best was two goals in 1:58 on Oct. 19 against Norfolk.
NEXT UPThe Everblades continue their four-game homestand with a Friday night matchup against the Solar Bears. Faceoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
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