ESTERO, Fla. — The Florida Everblades scored twice on the power play and received multi-point efforts from four sources to earn a sweep of the Atlanta Gladiators with a 5-2 win on Saturday at Hertz Arena.
Lukas Craggs potted two goals, including the game-winner, and Ken Appleby stopped 35 of 37 shots fired his way to pick up his league-leading 22nd win of the season, as the ‘Blades (35-12-3-2, 75 pts.) extended their home point streak to eight games (7-0-1-0) in their final home game against Atlanta (21-27-1-1, 44 pts.) this season.
The ‘Blades got out to an early 2-0 advantage with two goals in 34 seconds in the first three minutes of the game. Florida’s first goal of the night came 2:13 into the game off the red-hot stick of Cody Sol, who scored his third in two nights. With the ‘Blades on the power play, Sol snuck below the dots and ripped a one-time feed from Justin Auger that found twine on the glove side of Atlanta goaltender Chris Nell.
Michael Downing then doubled the lead a little more than half a minute later. As the ‘Blades re-established in the Gladiators’ zone, Blake Winiecki sent the puck back to Downing in the slot, and he cranked a slap shot past the glove of Nell.
Atlanta evened the game at two with a pair of power-play goals only 17 seconds apart in the second period. Derek Nesbitt scored on a five-on-three advantage at 6:47 of the second period, and Thomas Frazee tapped in a rebound on the ensuing five-on-four power play to tie the score.
But Florida surged ahead only 65 seconds later on Craggs’ first goal of the game. A three-on-two rush into the Atlanta zone saw Hugo Roy sauce a pass to Justin Auger for the initial try that deflected off the blocker of Nell. It caromed into the slot where Craggs was waiting to slap it past Nell.
Hunter Garlent added another goal to cushion the Everblades’ lead to two goals for the second time in the game at 8:26 of the third period. While on the power play, Maclise forced a turnover in the offensive zone and fed to Garlent. After waiting out Nell on the left side of the net, Garlent was able to lift the puck over the blocker in tight for the goal to make it 4-2.
Craggs added his second of the night to cap off the victory on an empty-net goal with 10 seconds to play.
- Since returning to the ‘Blades on loan from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, Lukas Craggs has points in five of six games, posting six points (3g, 3a) in that six-game stretch.
- Cody Sol doubled his Everblades point total with three goals in the two-game series against Atlanta. He entered the weekend with three points (2g, 1a) in his first 16 games with Florida.
- Justin Auger’s three-assist night was his first three-point outing of the season, as he joined nine other ‘Blades players who have tallied three or more points in a game this season.
- The ‘Blades scored two power-play goals in a game for the second time this season. Florida went 2-for-3 on the man advantage against the Indy Fuel on Jan. 16.
- Appleby’s dominance on home ice continued, as he extended his home unbeaten streak to five games, the longest home unbeaten streak by a ‘Blades goaltender this year.
- Garlent moved his season-high point streak to four games with a goal and an assist. He has seven points (2g, 5a) in that stretch.
- Florida has scored 33 goals in its eight-game point streak and has recorded five or more goals five times in the eight games.
Next UpFlorida hosts the Orlando Solar Bears on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET to start a four-game week.
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