A four-goal opening period Wednesday night powered the Florida Everblades to their third straight victory in a 4-1 win over the Wheeling Nailers at Germain Arena.
After a three-week, nine-game road trip, the Everblades were ready to come home and show their fans how the team had gelled over the preceding weeks on the road. They didn't disappoint.
Starting with Luc Tardif's second goal of the season 12:22 into the opening frame, the Everblades went on to score three more in the next 6:40 all but putting the game away early before the Nailers had a chance to get their hockey legs under them.
"These first games after a long road trip are always dangerous," said Blades coach Greg Poss. "I was really happy with the four goals in the first period, and the way the guys stood up to them (later in the game)."
Three minutes after Tardif's opening score, the floodgates opened as Leigh Salters, Trevor Bruess and Chris Murray (power play) scored in the six minutes, recording the first- ever four-goal opening period in Everblades team history.
Sensing the Blades might try to just protect their lead for the remainder of the contest, Wheeling came out firing in the second period, but the Blades' defense, led by goalie John Muse, was there to turn them away each time. The Blades almost made it 5-0 late in the second period before Wheeling got on the scoreboard.
The goal was waved off after a goaltender interference call against Bruess, nullifying the play. Wheeling eventually scored minutes later, beating Muse (27 saves) for their only goal of the night.
"It was just bouncing," Muse said of his one error on the night. "It just bounced over my stick, I wish I could have it back, but (it happens)."
"Huge saves by John Muse tonight," Poss said. "He made some big saves in the first period for us; we could have been down 3-0 eight minutes in."
In the end, the four goals were all the Bladed needed to secure their fifth win of the season.
The Blades (5-6-1) will try to continue their winning streak Friday and Saturday nights, both against the Nailers (6-2).