ESTERO, FLA.— The Florida Everblades scored two shorthanded goals and notched two goals in each of the first two periods to move their point streak to 11 games with a 5-1 win over the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Saturday night at Hertz Arena.
In the series finale of a two-game set with Greenville (24-25-1-1, 50 pts.), the ‘Blades (32-11-1-1, 69 pts.) scored less than five minutes into the first to set the tone and received a 25-save effort from goaltender Ken Appleby to win for the 10th time in their last 11 games.
Though it wasn’t as quick as their first goal on Friday, the ‘Blades again struck in the first five minutes of the first period to take an early lead on Greenville. Justin Auger forced a turnover in the offensive zone, skated to the slot and fed Joe Pendenza for a one-time blast in the right circle that beat Greenville goaltender Jeremy Helvig.
The ‘Blades doubled their lead in the last 90 seconds of the first period on a shorthanded goal by John McCarron. McCarron and Huntebrinker combined to force a turnover at the ‘Blades blue line and then motored ahead on a two-on-one rush. From the left-wing wall, Huntebrinker found McCarron jetting to the net, and McCarron took the pass and lifted it over the blocker of Helvig.
Florida scored twice more in the second period, including its second shorthanded strike of the game to make its lead 4-0. Zach Magwood and Huntebrinker combined on a two-on-one, shorthanded rush to push the lead to three with 7:35 left in the second. With the puck sliding out of Florida’s defensive zone, Magwood jetted ahead with it and then filtered a pass to the right circle for Huntebrinker, and he hammered a blast past Helvig’s glove.
Blake Winiecki then punched in a rebound off another zone rush just 59 seconds after Huntebrinker’s goal to move the lead to 4-0. Winiecki’s pass sent Hunter Garlent into the zone, and he distributed it to the slot for Auger. Helvig stopped Auger’s try, but Winiecki found the loose puck and shoveled it in.
Greenville got back within three on a power-play goal from Nathan Perkovich at 9:15 of the third period, but Winiecki struck right back for Florida to reinstate the four-goal lead. Off a three-on-one rush, Lukas Craggs and Hunter Garlent had their shots stopped by Helvig, but Winiecki beat Helvig through the five-hole on the third chance only 91 seconds after Perkovich’s goal.
- Florida scored multiple goals in the first period of a home game for the eighth time this season. All eight of those multi-goal first periods have taken place over Florida’s last 14 home games.
- Prior to last Friday’s meeting between Florida and Greenville, the Swamp Rabbits had yielded just one shorthanded goal in their first 46 games. The ‘Blades have scored three shorthanded goals against the Swamp Rabbits in the last three meetings.
- The ‘Blades notched multiple shorthanded goals in a game for the first time since the 2017-18 season. Florida last had two shorthanded strikes on Jan. 12, 2018, in a 4-2 win over the Jacksonville Icemen.
- Florida’s four-goal margin of victory was its 17th win by three or more goals this season, a league-high.
- Florida posted at least 35 shots on goal for the fourth straight game and the 19th time total this season.
Next UpFlorida plays for the fourth time in five days on Sunday, when it travels to Orlando for a matinee with the Solar Bears. Faceoff is set for 3 p.m. at the Amway Center.
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The Florida Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators and AHL's Milwaukee Admirals