Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | 8:31 p.m.
The Florida Everblades scored the opening two goals of the game Tuesday and scored another in the third period to defeat the Wranglers 3-1 in Game 4 of the Kelly Cup Finals.
With the victory, Florida won its third consecutive game over Las Vegas, putting the Wranglers on the brink of elimination with a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series.
After Florida goaltender John Muse stifled several Wrangler scoring opportunities throughout the opening period, the Everblades took the lead on a Brandon MacLean goal at the 17:55 mark of the period.
MacLean broke free on a back check and used a deke move near the net to beat Las Vegas goalie Joe Fallon through the legs with a backhanded shot.
The Wranglers missed an excellent opportunity to tie the game early in the second period when Eric Lampe and Adam Miller were unable to connect on an odd man rush with Muse out of position. Lampe’s pass slid under Miller’s stick while Miller was positioned near the cage with an open net.
Shortly thereafter, the Everblades took a 2-0 lead on a Matt Marquardt deflection at the 5:15 mark of the period. Florida center Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll fired a blast from near the blue line, while Marquardt used his stick to deflect the puck by Fallon and into the back of the net.
The Wranglers scored their lone goal of the evening less than 90 seconds later on a Peter MacArthur slap shot from the slot. MacArthur was assisted by a Lampe centering pass that setup the one timer.
Late in the second period, Miller beat Muse glove side but missed a shot off the goal post that would have tied the game. The Everblades took a 2-1 advantage into the second intermission despite being out-shot 21-15 through 40 minutes.
Florida’s David Rutherford picked up a two minute penalty for roughing following the conclusion of the second period, but the Wranglers were unable to capitalize on the man advantage to start the third period as their power play woes continued.
After protecting a 2-1 lead most of the third period, the Everblades clinched the game with a Justin Shugg goal at the 15:37 mark of the period. Taking a pass from Lalonde-McNicoll, Shugg lifted the puck over Fallon’s shoulder for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
With Tuesday’s win at Germain Arena, the Everblades improved to a perfect 10-0 on their home ice in the playoffs. They will have the opportunity to close out the Wranglers in Game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals Wednesday night in Florida.
Stars of the game: 1. John Muse (29 saves); 2. Justin Shugg (1 goal, 1 assist); 3. Cedric Lalonde-McNicoll (2 assists).
Next up: The Wranglers return to the ice at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Germain Arena for Game 5 of the championship series. If Las Vegas keeps its season alive with a victory, the Wranglers will return home to the Orleans Arena on Friday for Game 6. If necessary, Game 7 would be played in Las Vegas on Saturday.