ESTERO, Fla. — Eastern Conference Finals could end with a shut-out Friday night if the Everblades maintain their icing of the Newfoundland Growlers.
The 'Blades are coming off a 4-3 victory in Game Three Wednesday at Hertz Arena, putting a 3-nil advantage in the series to Florida.
It was the first game of the series where an Everblades goal was scored in the first period. After taking a drop pass from Stefan Leblanc, Alex Aleardi raced into the offensive zone and blistered a shot past Keith Petruzzelli 26 seconds into the game. Aleardi’s fourth strike of the postseason marked the second straight game that the Blades jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
Stefan Leblanc (12:44) added to the Blades’ advantage on a slapshot from the blue line after 14 seconds of a power play. Newfoundland cut the deficit in half to 2-1 courtesy of Orrin Centazzo at the 13:32 mark.
The Growlers tied 2-2 at the eight-minute mark of Period 2 with Jeremy McKenna’s power-play conversion. However, Chris McKay’s buzzer-beating slapper gave the Everblades a 3-2 edge with seven-tenths of a second remaining.
Florida continued their success on the man advantage when it mattered the most. Lukas Kaelble (8:21) buried one from the high slot for his first lamplighter of the season and his second in an Everblades uniform to make it 4-2.
After missing the first two games of the series, Newfoundland’s Zach O’Brien (13:58) made it a one-goal difference again as he backhanded the puck across Johnson’s crease.
Despite the Growlers using their timeout, the Everblades held off any remaining chances and hung on for the 4-3 win. The outcome extended the team’s win streak to eight games. Johnson advanced his playoff record to 10-0-1 after stopping 25 of 28 shots in the game.
Friday's action begins at 7:30 p.m.