Carolina Comes from Behind against Columbus, 3-2

Winston-Salem, NC – Following a shootout loss on Thursday and trailing for most of the evening, the Carolina Thunderbirds came from behind to win in overtime against the Columbus River Dragons, 3-2, Friday night at the Fairgrounds Arena.

Columbus (44-7-4) jumped out in front early just 2:41 into the 1st period. Bryan Moore lifted a shot over the glove of Carolina (40-11-4) netminder Cody Karpinski taking a 1-0 lead early. The River Dragons held onto the lead for nearly five minutes before Jon Buttitta was left alone in the slot on a one-timer, blasting a shot past William Lavalliere tying the game at one. The tie was short lived as Columbus went to a power play and Alexander Jmaeff tipped home a centering pass giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.

Columbus held that advantage until the 3rd. Coming off a faceoff win by Jan Salak, Jiri Pestuka snapped a shot over the blocker of Lavalliere tying the game at two with 11 minutes remaining in regulation. For the second night in-a-row, Carolina was awarded a 5-on-3 opportunity with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. The Thunderbirds could not score in regulation and the two sides went to overtime for the fifth time this year.

In overtime, after a first rush was cleared by Columbus, Karpinski laced a stretch pass to the attacking blue line to Buttitta who found Nate Keeley coming off the bench and ripping a snapshot past Lavalliere and sending the Thunderbirds home winners, 3-2.

The win for Carolina was its 40th of the season and marks its 10th come from behind victory while trailing going into the 3rd period.

Pestuka was named the 3rd star with the tying goal while Karpinski earned 2nd star honors making 37 saves and getting an assist on the game winning goal. Keeley was awarded the 1st star with the overtime winner.

Carolina and Columbus meet for the regular season finale on Saturday in Columbus. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. from the Columbus Civic Center.