ESTERO, Fla. — Cam Johnson pitched a 32-save shutout, and Justin Auger helped create each of the first two goals to lead the Florida Everblades to a gritty 3-0 win over the Newfoundland Growlers on Friday night at Hertz Arena.
After losing five players to AHL call-ups this week, the Everblades (39-13-3-2, 83 pts.) scored just past the halfway point of the first period and held back a potent offensive attack for the Growlers (37-16-0-1, 75 pts.) to hand Newfoundland just its third regulation loss in its last 12 road games.
After getting outshot 9-0 in the early stages of the first period, Florida bounced back to score on just its second shot on goal to go up 1-0 with 11:20 gone by in the opening frame. Hunter Garlent pressured Garrett Johnston in the neutral zone and forced him into a turnover. Auger was there to retrieve the puck and enter the Newfoundland zone. Using his large frame, Auger skated the puck to the outside and made his way to the bottom of the right circle before knuckling a wrist shot along the ice to beat Newfoundland goaltender Angus Redmond through the five-hole.
Johnson came up large for the ‘Blades prior to the midway point of the second period while the ‘Blades were on the power play, as he made a huge pad save to turn away a shorthanded breakaway for Newfoundland’s Colt Conrad.
With a little under five minutes to play in the second period, Johnson turned up with another key save. The second-year pro went across his crease to stonewall a cross-crease pass and shot from Zach O’Brien to keep the ‘Blades up 1-0 heading into the second intermission.
The ‘Blades flipped the switch in the third period and were all over the Growlers for most of the frame. Entering the period with just eight shots on net, the ‘Blades peppered Redmond with 12 shots in the third and held the Growlers to just 10 shots on goal.
Michael Huntebrinker brought energy to the ‘Blades for the entirety of the game, and it paid off for him in the third. He gave the ‘Blades a two-goal cushion goal at 9:53 of the final period. Off a similar zone rush to his goal, Auger set up Hunter Garlent in the slot for a shot that went off Redmond and back to Huntebrinker on the left side of the net. Huntebrinker banged the puck by Redmond for the ‘Blades second of the game.
The ‘Blades got into penalty trouble with 1:21 to play, giving Newfoundland a 6-on-4 advantage, with Redmond pulled for the extra attacker. But Levko Koper sunk a shot from deep in the ‘Blades end on the empty net to clinch the winning outcome.
- The ‘Blades improved to 20-2-0-0 when Justin Auger records a goal.
- In a game where Newfoundland had a 6-2 edge in power-play opportunities, Florida’s penalty kill came up big with a perfect 6-for-6 night against the league’s second-best power play.
- Hunter Garlent has points in eight of his last nine games and has posted multiple points six times in that nine-game stretch. The rookie has recorded 14 points (4g, 10a) in his last nine outings.
- Johnson’s shutout was his second of the season and saw him deny 17 high-quality scoring chances for Newfoundland over the first two periods alone.
- Florida had allowed three or more goals in four straight games before Johnson’s shutout on Friday.
- Friday was Florida’s fifth total shutout of the season and first since a 4-0 blanking of the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Jan. 24.
Next UpThe Everblades continue their three-game week with a Saturday night home matchup against the Jacksonville Icemen.
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and AHL's Milwaukee Admirals