Sol Train: 'Blades Down Gladiators to Push Home Point Streak to Seven
ESTERO, Fla. - Defenseman Cody Sol scored twice, and Cam Johnson picked up his fifth straight win in net with 34 saves on 37 shots, as the Florida Everblades grabbed a 5-3 win over the Atlanta Gladiators on Friday at Hertz Arena.
Playing Atlanta (21-26-1-1, 44 pts.) for the second time this week, Florida (34-12-3-2, 73 pts.) tabbed two goals in each of the first two periods to open up a two-goal lead and held on in the third period to run its home point streak to seven games.
Atlanta's power play continued to be a thorn in the 'Blades side, as the Gladiators opened the scoring with their fourth power-play goal on their last seven chances against Florida 2:57 into the first period. Scott Conway found Zach Malatesta at the point for a quick wrist shot that found its way through traffic.
The 'Blades answered back at 11:27 with Sol's sixth goal of the season. Sol received the puck at the left point from Cam Maclise, and Sol took the puck down to the outside of the left circle and fired a shot through traffic. On the way to the net, the puck deflected off the skate of Gladiators defenseman Joel Messner before beating Atlanta goaltender Callum Booth through the five-hole.
Sol added his second of the night just seven seconds into a man advantage at 15:42 of the first period. Off a faceoff win by Hunter Garlent, Michael Downing sent a one-time feed over to Sol on the opposite point. Sol unloaded a cannon of a shot toward Booth, beating him cleanly over the glove to give the 'Blades a 2-1 lead late in the first period.
Garlent turned the 'Blades lead into two goals 3 minutes, 7 seconds into the second period. Ben Masella narrowly preserved possession in the zone at the edge of the blue line, and that led to a slap shot that rebounded to Blake Winiecki. Winiecki threw the puck back on net, and it snuck by the pads of Booth. Garlent was on the back door to jam it home for his 10th strike of the season.
The Gladiators pulled back within one at 13:39 of the second period on a goal from Eric Neiley, but Florida responded within 30 seconds to reinstate the two-goal lead. Booth stopped the initial try from Lukas Craggs on the rush, but a lively rebound bounced out into the slot. Booth tried diving to cover the puck, but Hugo Roy stole it and tossed it into the open cage just 26 seconds after Atlanta's tally.
Tommy Marchin netted the Gladiators' second power-play goal of the game to cut the 'Blades lead to one with 5:48 to play in the third period. Like Atlanta's first power-play strike, the puck found Zach Malatesta at the point for a shot, and Marchin managed to deflect it past Johnson.
Levko Koper scored an empty-net goal with just 1:17 to play to seal the win.
The Everblades' home point streak of seven games (6-0-1-0) is a season-high. After starting the season with an 8-5-1-0 record at home, Florida has gone 9-1-1 in its last 11 home tilts.
Since head coach Brad Ralph took over behind the Florida bench in the 2016-17 season, the 'Blades hold a record of 33-4-0-1 against Atlanta. Florida is also 14-2-1-0 at Hertz Arena against Atlanta in that four-year span.
The 'Blades improved to 12-1-1-0 in their last 14 games.
Cody Sol's two goals helped him join the company of Logan Roe and Arvin Atwal as the only three 'Blades defensemen to post a multi-goal game this season. Sol's multi-goal outing was the third of his career and first since Feb. 2, 2018, which came in a 6-4 Fort Wayne Komets' win over the Rapid City Rush.
Florida had four other players besides Sol record a multi-point game: Hugo Roy (1g, 1a), Hunter Garlent (1g, 1a), Cam Maclise (2a) and Michael Downing (2a).
Florida concludes a stretch of three straight games against Atlanta with a Saturday night matchup at Hertz Arena. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m.
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