Quick Start Propels 'Blades to 5-2 Win over Atlanta
DULUTH, Ga. - The Florida Everblades scored 22 seconds into the game and never trailed the rest of the way en route to a 5-2 win over the Atlanta Gladiators on Thursday night at Infinite Energy Arena.
In the first game back from the Christmas break, Florida (19-6-5-0, 43 pts.) scored twice in the first period and twice in the third to earn its 16th consecutive regular-season win over Atlanta (6-16-5-1, 18 pts.
The 'Blades struck for their fastest goal to start a game this season, scoring just 22 seconds in to set the tone early. Justin Auger carried the puck below the goal line and threw the puck out front. Although Atlanta managed to deflect the pass, it came to Tommy Thompson in the slot and he promptly snapped the puck past Atlanta goaltender Colton Phinney to make it 1-0.
Ben Masella forced a turnover in the neutral zone to jumpstart Florida's second goal of the night. After Masella tapped it into the zone, Blake Winiecki gathered possession and moved the puck to the left circle for John McCarron. He immediately returned it to Winiecki at the right side of the net for the easy tap-in goal.
Winiecki returned the favor to McCarron to help Florida extend its lead to three in the first five minutes of the second period. Atlanta tried to clear the zone, but Winiecki pinched in at the right-wing wall to hold the puck in the offensive zone. While in the right corner, Winiecki then located McCarron in the low slot, and McCarron slapped a backhand shot past Atlanta's backup netminder Sean Bonar at the 4:17 mark of period two.
Atlanta managed to cut its deficit to two with a power-play goal exactly two minutes after Florida had scored to turn it into a 3-1 game. Alex Overhardt crashed toward the low slot to follow up Derek Nesbitt's initial attempt and slipped his shot past Florida goaltender Jamie Phillips six minutes, 17 seconds into the middle stanza.
Following a scoreless remainder of the second period, Florida scored two of the final three goals to ensure the win.
Atlanta's Jack Stander turned it over behind his own net, and Kyle Platzer pounced on the turnover to extend Florida's lead back to three at the 6:45 mark of the third. Platzer intercepted the feed at the top of the left circle, carried to the slot and roofed it over Bonar's glove hand.
Overhardt scored his second power-play goal of the game to trim the deficit back to two, but Florida's Mike Neville struck on a breakaway with less than four minutes left for the final tally of the night.
Phillips turned aside 33 shots for his 12th win of the season.
Florida now travels to Greenville, South Carolina, for a two-game series against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits to continue the stretch of three games in three nights. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. against Greenville on Friday night.
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Images from this story
Mike Neville (right) of the Florida Everblades scored the final goal of the game vs. the Atlanta Gladiators on Thursday
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