ESTERO, Fla. — Holding an opportunity to draw into a tie for first place in the South Division, the Florida Everblades (11-5-0-0, 22 pts.) host the South Carolina Stingrays (12-2-0-0, 24 pts.) on Saturday night at Hertz Arena in the finale of a two-game series.
Last time outFlorida scored first for the first time in a home game this season and held two separate leads, but the Stingrays scored the final two goals of the game, including a power-play tally with less than seven minutes left in the third period, to earn a 3-2 win over Florida on Friday at Hertz Arena. Zach Magwood scored his fourth goal in his last four games, and Blake Winiecki notched his seventh goal of the season in the setback for Florida. RECAP | BOX SCORE
Series At A GlanceSouth Carolina is the Everblades’ most-played opponent in franchise history, and Saturday is the 196th all-time meeting between the two sides. Florida owns a 104-69-22 all-time record against the Stingrays and finished with a 5-2-1-0 mark against South Carolina last season. This season, Florida will square off with the Stingrays on 10 occasions, including four matchups at Hertz Arena and six tilts at North Charleston Coliseum. The 10 matchups between the storied rivals this year are the most head-to-head tilts in one season since the 2016-17 season.
Players to WatchZach Magwood (FLA) - The second-year forward is currently in one of his best stretches of the season. After scoring just one goal in his first 12 games, Magwood has racked up four goals in his last four games. He has five points in that four-game point streak. The Cambridge, Ontario, native had 12 points (4g-8a) in 44 games with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals in his rookie season.
Mitch Vanderlaan (SC) – Vanderlaan led the Stingrays offense with two points (1g-1a) on Friday, the third multi-point game of his rookie year. The Hanwell, New Brunswick, native spent the last four seasons with Cornell University (2015-19) and captained the Big Red last season as a senior. Vanderlaan played two seasons with 'Blades defenseman Patrick McCarron at Cornell from 2015-17.
Clamping Down on ChancesFlorida ranks second in the league in shots allowed per game and has yielded an average of just 26.7 shots per contest. The Everblades stymied South Carolina on Friday and held the Stingrays to just 22 shots on goal, the seventh time this year Florida has held an opponent to less than 25 shots on goal. Florida has allowed more than 30 shots on goal just four times.
First Things FirstFlorida allowed the first goal of the game in each of its first six games of the season but has been on the opposite side of the equation lately. The 'Blades have tallied first in a season-high four straight games. Friday was the first time this season that Florida has scored the first goal on home ice, a goal that was also its first goal in the first period of a home game.
Shots, Shots, ShotsDominating puck possession has been the key for Florida to start the season. The ‘Blades have held the edge in shots on goal in 14 of their 16 games and are 11-3-0-0 when outshooting their opponent. Entering Saturday, the 'Blades have outshot their opponent in nine consecutive games. Including last season, the Everblades have been outshot just 18 times in their last 88 games (20.5%). Last season, Florida's longest stretch of outshooting its opponent was 11 straight games from Dec. 13, 2018 - Jan. 4, 2019.
Next UpFlorida will make its only Mountain Division road trip of the season, as it travels to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Grizzlies in a three-game series on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of this coming week.
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