WHEELING, WV – Brendan O’Donnell and Kevin Lynch both scored two goals to lead the Florida Everblades to a 6-3 victory over the Wheeling Nailers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Wednesday night at the WesBanco Arena. The Everblades now lead the best-of-seven playoff series two games to one over the Wheeling Nailers.
Striking first, the Nailers took the game’s early lead midway through the first period thanks to a rebound in front of the Everblades’ goal. Getting the puck high in the attacking zone, Paul Cianfrini fired his shot through traffic and towards the goal. Stopping the initial chance, Everblades’ goaltender Anthony Peters allowed the rebound to take the puck right to the stick of Jordan Kwas who quickly buried his shot into the net.
Earning a power play just minutes later, the ‘Blades wasted no time evening up the score. Getting the puck along the right wing side, Ethan Werek used some nifty moves to deke around the Wheeling penalty killers. Getting to the low circle, Werek slid the puck back towards the front of goal where a waiting Danny New wristed his quick shot past Wheeling goaltender Franky Palazzese.
Taking their first lead of the game, the ‘Blades again took advantage of a power play to take a 2-1 lead less than two minutes into the second period. Getting the puck in the neutral zone, Brendan O’Donnell cut down through the middle of the attacking zone. Tapping on the breaks, O’Donnell fired a quick wrister past Palazzese.
Continuing to build momentum, the Everblades doubled their lead midway through the middle frame off of their third power play goal of the evening. Beginning to up the pressure on the Wheeling penalty kill, Chase Golightly found Kevin Lynch alone at the left wing circle. Firing the one-timer, Lynch’s shot went right through the five-hole of Palazzese. The goal also served as the end of Palazzese’s night as he replaced in goal by Brian Foster. Florida finished the game 3-for-5 on the power play.
Killing off the first penalty of a 5-on-3 penalty kill, the ‘Blades forced a Wheeling turnover and scored shorthanded to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Blocking away the puck at his own blue line, Kevin Lynch took off on a shorthanded breakaway. Moving towards the net, Lynch wristed his shot through the five-hole of the Wheeling goaltender and into the back of the net.
Getting one back just 3:41 into the third period, Wheeling took advantage of another rebound in front of the Everblades goal to cut the deficit down to two. Stopping a shot from Mathew Malone, Anthony Peters looked to have the puck controlled until Riley Brace jammed the puck loose and buried it into the net.
Though Wheeling began to gain some momentum midway through the third period, the Everblades bounced back, taking a 5-2 lead midway through the third period to snuff out any hope of a potential comeback. Getting the puck at the blue line, Justin Agosta fired a shot through traffic that was tipped multiple times before being deflected over Foster’s shoulder by Brendan O’Donnell.
However, the Nailers did not go away quietly. Again getting pressure around the Everblades’ net, Wheeling made the score 5-3 with just over five minutes remaining in the third period. A shot from Riley Brace across the face of goal was met by the stick of Cody Wydo and turned past Anthony Peters for the goal.
Though Wheeling pulled their goaltender to earn an extra attacker late in the game, the move would prove to be not enough. Taking advantage of the open net, Gabriel Desjardins fired the puck down the ice and into the empty net to earn the ‘Blades a hard fought 6-3 win.
Anthony Peters made some tremendous saves throughout the contest, earning the win for the Everblades after stopping 36 of the 39 shots he faced. Brian Foster suffers the loss in goal for Wheeling, allowing two goals on 14-shots. Franky Palazzese also appeared in net for the Nailers, allowing three goals on 11-shots.
The Florida Everblades continue their playoff push in game four of this best of seven series this Friday night against the Wheeling Nailers at the WesBanco Arena.
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