Blades come-back falls short; Rays win 4-3
CHARLESTON, SC - The Florida Everblades saw themselves fall behind 2-games-to-1 to the South Carolina Stingrays in the best-of-seven South Division Finals after falling 4-3 in Game 3 on Friday night at the North Charleston Coliseum. South Carolina built a 4-1 lead by the early point of the third period before the Everblades made a last gasp effort to tie the game after scoring two late third period goals only to fall short.
Looking back, a lack-luster first period cost the Everblades as South Carolina came out strong in the first period. From the drop of the puck in the first period, the Stingrays peppered the Everblades end of the ice and carried the play en-route to a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
A pair of Everblade penalties midway through the first period led to South Carolina's first marker. After holding the Stingrays off the board during a 33-second span of a 5-on-3 power play, South Carolina got one past David Leggio when Keith Johnson deflected a point shot by Sasha Pokulok into the net from the slot at 12:10.
Just one minute, six seconds later the Stingrays took a two-goal lead when Nikita Kashirsky tallied on a delayed penalty against the Everblades. Kashirsky began the play by racing in on Leggio on a breakaway before getting hooked from behind, preventing him from shooting. Kashirsky stuck with the play however and with the extra attacker on the ice, he fired a shot from the right circle that snuck past Leggio at 13:16.
Late in the frame, the Everblaes, who found themselves being out-shot 10-1, began to bring some pressure but James Reimer turned away all six shots he faced in the period.
In the second period the Everblades came out with more jump in their step as they out-shot South Carolina 13-6 in the frame and picked up a big power play goal midway through the period to pick up the momentum.
The Everblades trimmed the Stingrays lead in half at 9:37 when Ross Carlson scooped up a loose puck at the right side of the crease and flipped it past a sprawled Reimer. Andrew Sweetland and Yannick Tifu assisted on Carlson's fifth playoff goal.
The momentum gained by the Everblades unfortunately faded after a penalty just past the midway point in the frame. During the power play the Stingrays converted when Zach Tarkir's shot from the blue line deflected off an Florida defender and past Leggio at 13:42 to open a 3-1 lead.
In the period both teams lost key players. For the Everblades Milan Gajic was helped off the ice after losing an edge and crashing into the end boards behind the South Carolina net, although he would return in the third period. The Stingrays meanwhile lost defenseman Nate Kiser when Brad Herauf unloaded a big open-ice hit in the neutral zone, shaking him up.
Despite unrelenting pressure by the Everblades over the first six minute of the third period, it was the Stingrays that opened up a three-goal lead on a high-light reel goal by Jeff Corey who weaved his was through three Everblade defenders from the neutral zone in, before slipping a back-hand shot past Leggio at 7:02.
The Everblades however didn't go quietly into the night coming back to score two late goals to cutting South Carolina's lead down to one. The first of the goals came once more with the Everblades on the power play when Mathieu Roy deflected a shot from Peter Metcalf past Reimer from the top of the crease at 12:23. The goal was Roy's second of the playoffs and was also assisted by Carlson.
The Everblades then got back to within a goal with just 31 seconds remaining in the frame on Carlson's second goal of the night. With Leggio pulled for an extra attacker Jonathan Paiement worked the puck loose to Gajic who's stuffer attempt at the left post was stopped by Reimer, but Carlson was there to jam home the rebound for his sixth playoff goal.
Un fortunately the Everblades couldn't get any closer as the Stingrays hung on to regain the series lead.
In goal Leggio fell to 5-3 after allowing the four goals on 20 shots. Reimer, making his first appearance since Game 2 of South Carolina's first round series, improved to 1-1 after stopping 27 of 30 shots.
On the power play, the Everblades finished the night 2-of-5, while the Stingrays closed out the game 2-of-4.
BEWARE OF THE BITE! Action You Can Sink Your Teeth Into! Visit the Germain Arena Box Office M-F from 10-6 to purchase tickets, or order online at www.ticketmaster.com. Visit www.floridaeverblades.com and www.germainarena.com or call 239-948-PUCK for more information on group ticket packages, pricing and upcoming Germain Arena events.
The Everblades return to action on Friday, May 1 when they travel to South Carolina to take on the Stingrays in Game 3 of the South Division Finals at the North Charleston Coliseum at 7:05 p.m.
1 - Zach Tarkir - SC
2 - James Reimer - SC
3 - Jeff Corey - SC
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