Estero, FL – A pair of shorthanded goals in the third period forced overtime for the Florida Everblades, but the home side couldn’t break through in the shootout, falling 4-3 to the Fort Wayne Komets Friday at Germain Arena.
Trailing 2-1 heading into the third period, the Everblades pulled even at 2-2 just 2:11 into the frame as Philip-Michael Devos got free behind the Fort Wayne defense on the penalty kill and lifted a wrister over the glove of Komet goalie Ben Meisner for the Blades’ league-best 11th shorthanded goal of the year.
Granted a 5-on-3 in the final three minutes of regulation, Fort Wayne pulled ahead 3-2 with 2:17 to go on a rising slap shot through traffic by defenseman Jace Coyle.
With Carl Nielsen still in the penalty box after Coyle goal, Florida mounted another shorthanded comeback as Brandon MacLean stuffed home a Trevor Bruess rebound with 1:40 to go, eventually forcing overtime.
In the extra frame, Fort Wayne outshot the Blades 3-1 but neither team could convert, sending the game to the shootout.
Dean Ouellet and Brandon Marino cashed in their shootout opportunities while all four Florida shooters came up empty on Meisner, delivering the Komets their first shootout win of 2013-14 by a 4-3 final.
Fort Wayne took a 1-0 lead just 4:08 into the game as Kenton Miller used the Blades defense to screen starting netminder Trevor Cann, ripping a snap shot off the left post and in.
Kyle Bonis dialed up an equalizer on the power play for the Blades, knotting the game at one by one-timing a broken play from Brandon MacLean inside the left post with 8:01 left in the first.
The only goal of the second period belonged to Fort Wayne, as a Florida turnover in the defensive zone wound up on the stick of Jordon Southorn, who ripped a slap shot past the blocker of Cann for a 2-1 Komet advantage with 10:16 remaining in the middle stanza.
Shortly after Southorn’s tally, Cann left the game with an apparent arm injury and was replaced by Connor Knapp.
Knapp finished the night with 14 saves but took the tough-luck loss in the shootout; Meisner turned aside 22 attempts by the Blades for his 10th win of the year.
With one on the power play and two shorthanded the Blades actually outscored Fort Wayne on the special teams 3-2, even though the Komets had 10 power plays on the night to just two for Florida.
The two sides will reconvene for a 7:00pm rubber match Saturday at Germain Arena.