ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – It was another big playoff game for the Florida Everblades and as he has done so many times in his storied career, John McCarron came through when the Blades needed him the most. McCarron snapped a 2-2 tie with just over seven minutes to play in the third period to propel the Everblades to a crucial 5-2 victory over the Newfoundland Growlers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday afternoon at Mary Brown’s Centre. With the victory, the Everblades lead the best-of seven series 3-2 and find themselves one win away from a second consecutive Kelly Cup Finals appearance. The teams traded first-period goals just 32 seconds apart as Newfoundland’s Pavel Gogolev struck first with an unassisted tally at 8:43, while Blake Winiecki responded for the Everblades in short order at 9:15. Winiecki banged home a rebound for his eighth goal of the playoffs – and team-high fourth of the series – following some nifty stickhandling and an initial shot from McCarron who joined Oliver Chau with the assists. Florida claimed a robust 16-9 advantage in shots on goal over the first 20 minutes. Gogolev struck for the second time early in the second period, putting the Growlers ahead 2-1 just 39 seconds after the opening draw. It took until the final minute of the frame, but the Everblades responded as a Ben Masella blast from the left circle knotted the score at 2-2. Masella’s second goal of the playoffs was the Blades’ first power-play tally of the series and came at the 19:01 mark. Tyler Irvine and Ashton Calder recorded the assists, the first helpers of the series for either player. Once again, Florida held a stout 18-9 edge in the shooting department.
With the teams even after two periods for the second time as many games, McCarron gave the Everblades their first lead of the contest, 3-2, registering his fifth goal of the playoffs at the 12:49 mark. Winiecki and Chau added the assists. Joe Pendenza and Cam Darcy closed out the scoring with empty-net goals in the closing minutes to seal the 5-2 victory.
McCarron, Winiecki and Chau each had two points for the victorious Everblades. Florida outshot Newfoundland 42-26, as Cam Johnson made 24 saves to improve to 11-4-2 in the playoffs. Luke Cavallin registered 37 saves and evened his record at 2-2 for Newfoundland. With the Everblades holding a 3-2 series lead, the Eastern Conference Finals resume Tuesday evening at Mary Brown’s Centre in St. John’s. Both Game Six and, if needed, Game Seven on Wednesday will get started at 5:30 p.m. EDT.
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