ESTERO, Florida – With the playoff race tightening in the Eastern Conference, Jordan Henry and A.J. Jenks each scored twice as the Florida Everblades pulled away from the Fort Wayne Komets for a 4-1 win Wednesday at Germain Arena.
With the teams trading chances early in the first, Henry drew first blood for the Blades with 9:05 to go in the first period, faking a pass to Brandon MacLean on a 2-on-1 rush before blazing a snap shot under the blocker of Komet goalie Andrey Makarov to post Florida to a 1-0 lead.
Not content to let his sixth goal of the year stand as the only tally of the first, Henry cashed in another odd-man rush 5:03 later, grabbing a centering pass from Danick Gauthier and lifting a backhander over Makarov’s stick and in to double to advantage to 2-0.
Fort Wayne cut the Blades’ edge to 2-1 with 9:02 left in the middle frame as Matt Carter threaded a perfect back door pass to Christian Ouellet, who blasted home a one-timer for his eighth marker of the season.
Moments after Makarov denied Philip-Michael Devos on a jaw-dropping glove save early in the third, Devos fed Jenks for a one-timer that the Wolverine Lake, Mich., native buried for his second goal in as many games and a two-goal cushion at 3-1 with 6:30 gone in the final frame.
Blades netminder Connor Knapp got a highlight-reel save of his own in the third, ranging right to left to deny a one-timer by Komet blueliner Jace Coyle with 7:43 to go in regulation.
When Fort Wayne bench boss Gary Graham pulled Makarov for an extra attacker late, Jenks made them pay with 55 seconds remaining: pinballing home an empty-netter for his second of the night and the 4-1 final.
Knapp finished with 29 saves for his second win in an Everblades uniform; Makarov dazzled with 22 stops but suffered his ninth loss of the season.
The two sides will reconvene Friday at Germain Arena as their three-game series continues at 7:30pm.