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Gladiators take down Walleye in shootout

TOLEDO, Ohio — Dirk Southern scored the game-winning goal in Round 5 of the shootout Sunday afternoon in a 5-4 win over the Toledo Walleye at the Huntington Center.

Toledo (19-38-3-2) rallied to tie the game on the powerplay with just 2.8 seconds left in regulation, with Brett Perlini slamming a point-blank one-timer past Gwinnett (26-35-3-2) goaltender Mark Guggenberger. The game stayed even through overtime before heading to the shootout.

Max Shalunov beat Guggenberger in Round 1 to put Toledo up, but Brenden Walker drew Gwinnett even with a goal in Round 2. Guggenberger shut down the Walleye in Rounds 2-5, and Southern snapped a quick shot through the five-hole of Toledo goalie Jared Coreau in Round 5 to give Gwinnett the second point and the win. The Gladiator assistant captain finished the night with a goal, and an assist to go with the winning marker.

Guggenberger stopped 28 shots to improve to 7-3 with Gwinnett, while Coreau made 24 saves in a loss for Toledo. Gwinnett’s last road shootout win was on February 6th, 2013 in a 3-2 win over the Wheeling Nailers.

Gwinnett drew first blood 7:01 into the opening period, as Mike Merrifield fed a pass from behind the Toledo net to Walker, and the Coyotes prospect rifled his fifth goal in his past five games over the left shoulder of Coreau.

Toledo tied it 12 minutes into the first on a goal by Matt Abercrombie, but Gwinnett answered before the period was through. Merrifield won a battle behind the net, and put a pass on the tape of Southern in the low slot. Southern ripped a shot over the glove of Coreau to push Gwinnett ahead 2-1 at 18:41. Daniel Spivak chipped in the second assist.

Kyle Rodgers tied the game at 2-2 with a powerplay deflection through the legs of Mark Guggenberger 22 seconds into the second, but 32 seconds later the Gladiators again jumped ahead.

Jonathan Narbonne found Casey Pierro-Zabotel down the near wing to spring Gwinnett for a 2-on-1. Pierro-Zabotel then placed a brilliant saucer pass to the far circle that Marshall Everson slid under Coreau for his team-leading 19th goal of the season.

The 3-2 lead wouldn’t last. Abercrombie drove around the Gwinnett defense down the right wing, and lifted a shot from the far goal line over Guggenberger for a spectacular tally to tie the game at 3-3 into the third.

Gwinnett again went ahead, as Merrifield snapped in a rebound from the near side off a Southern shot. Kurtis Bartliff had the other helper.

Gwinnett returns to action Friday at 7 p.m. in Greenville, before returning home Saturday to host the Road Warriors at 7:05 p.m. at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.