The Lynx showed Sunday they aren't ready to give up on their chances of making the ECHL playoffs just yet.
Defenseman John Cronin scored on a two-on-one breakaway 3 minutes into overtime to give the Lynx a 4-3 win against the Pensacola Ice Pilots at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
The Lynx (27-27-7), winners of their past four games, gained a point on Pensacola (34-20-8) and two on Gwinnett (34-19-7), the teams that hold the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference Central Division. With 61 points, the Lynx trail Pensacola (76) by 15 and Gwinnett (75) by 14, but are quickly running out of time with only 11 games left. The Lynx will get the chance to edge closer to Gwinnett on Tuesday when they travel to play the Gladiators.
"We're just battling right now," Lynx coach Stan Drulia said. "We don't want to take a step back Tuesday night."
In Saturday's shootout win against Florence, neither team put the puck in the net until the shootout. That wasn't the case against Pensacola, when three goals were scored in the first period.
The Ice Pilots got on the scoreboard first at 11:20 on a goal by Tyler Beechey. The Lynx quickly responded . Greg Jacina netted the Lynx's first goal and Jarrett Thompson followed with another just 29 seconds later.
Jean-Francois Soucy tied the game at 2-2 in the second and Brian Collins put the Ice Pilots up 3-2 heading into the third period. That's when the Lynx finally took advantage of a power-play opportunity. After letting seven chances go by Saturday night and three Sunday, Terry Marchant got past goaltender Evgeny Konstantinov on a breakaway to tie the score at 3-3 with 5:06 left in the third period."(Saturday) we had a ton of chances and couldn't finish," Cronin said. "(Sunday) we finished when we had to."
Cronin finished his game-winner off after attempting to pass the puck to Scott Kelman. The pass got deflected and Cronin found himself with the puck again.
"I was just trying to throw it in the net," Cronin said. "And lucky for me (it went in)."
Konstantinov ended up with 44 saves for the Ice Pilots after getting the start in place of Brian Eklund, one of the ECHL's leading goaltenders. The last time Eklund faced the Lynx at the Civic Center , he got lit up for five goals and was pulled in favor of Konstantinov, who held Augusta without a goal for the remainder of the game. The Lynx won that game 5-1.
Jason Saal made 34 saves for Augusta, though his team-record scoreless streak was broken by Beechey's first-period goal. Saal had held opponents without a goal for 187:21 since Augusta's March 6 game against Columbus.
Star of the game: Defenseman John Cronin scored the game-winner 3:03 into overtime to give the Lynx their fourth win in a row. It was his fourth goal of the season.
Turning point: Terry Marchant's power-play goal in the third period tied the game and shifted the momentum toward Augusta. Goaltender Jason Saal fought off 16 shots in the third to force overtime.
Plus: Augusta picks up a point on Pensacola and two on Gwinnett in its push for a playoff spot. The Lynx also connected for a goal on a power-play opportunity .
Minus: After the game was over and most players had cleared the ice, officials issued Pensacola's Jean-Francois Soucy and Augusta's Jarrett Thompson 10-minute misconduct penalties for fighting.
Next game: Tuesday, Lynx at Gwinnett Gladiators, 7:05 p.m.
Reach Kristy Shonka at (706) 823-3219or email@example.com.
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