FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Trailing 1-0 through two periods and facing a red-hot goaltender, the Florida Everblades dug deep and rattled off three unanswered goals in the third period to shock the hometown Fort Wayne Komets 3-1 on Thanksgiving Night.
The Komets took a that 1-0 lead less than halfway through the first as blueliner Jace Coyle blazed a rising slap shot through traffic on the power play in over the glove of Blades goalie Kristers Gudlevskis with 12:18 to go in the opening frame.
Gudlevskis was sharp throughout the first, however, denying multiple in-close opportunities for top-scoring Komet forwards Mickey Lang and Brandon Marino to hold the deficit at 1-0 through one.
Florida seized momentum in the second, putting 16 shots on Fort Wayne netminder Andrey Makarov, but could not solve the Russian netminder. Makarov made his biggest stops of the night on consecutive second-period scoring chances, stonewalling a Matthew Pistilli breakaway before shutting down a backdoor opportunity for Kyle Bonis to hold the score at 1-0 after 40 minutes.
It took a bit of luck, but the Everblades were able to tie the game 1-1 5:19 into the third as forward Kellan Tochkin looped a centering effort to the front of the Fort Wayne net that pinballed off of Komet winger Phil Mangan and in past Makarov.
After momentum swing wildly back and forth throughout the final frame, Blades blueliner Olivier Dame-Malka gave Florida its first lead of the night at 2-1 with just 1:52 left in regulation, beaming a low slapshot through traffic and in under Makarov's glove for his second goal in as many nights.
Undeterred by a Braden Birch holding minor that gave the Komets a chance at a 6-on-4 power play-with Makarov pulled-32 seconds after Malka's go-ahead strike, Trevor Bruess collected his own faceoff win and fought his way through center ice before chipping a slow-roller into the empty net at the 1:09 mark for the final 3-1 count.
Gudlevskis secured his third straight win and seventh victory overall on 29 stops; Makarov slipped to 6-4-0-0 despite dazzling with 32 saves.
The Everblades have Black Friday off before a 7:35 p.m. Saturday rematch with the Komets.