A sweep was not in the cards for the Florida Everblades in a 4-1 loss to the Wheeling Nailers 4-1 Saturday night in the teams' third meeting in four days at Germain Arena. The loss also snapped the Everblades' four-game winning streak.
The Everblades expected the Nailers to come out with a more physical style of play, but it was the Blades who initiated that physicality from the opening drop of the puck.
"We were just playing a highly motivated opponent," said Everblades coach Greg Poss afater the disappointing outing.
After a scoreless first period, during which the Blades were outshot by more than a 2-to-1 margin, the Blades eventually drew first blood. Just 1:41 into the second frame Ryan Galiardi tallied his second goal of the season to put the Blades in front 1-0.
Despite the early goal, the Everblades defense continued to allow pressure on netminder John Muse (41 saves). That pressure finally got to Muse as the Nailers tied the game 1-1 with 2:35 left in the second period.
The Everblades calmed down for the final period, but their defense continued to let down Muse as the shots favored the Nailers by nearly a 3-to-1 margin. The barrage of shots, and poor defensive stand, allowed the Nailers to score the go-ahead goal with 8 1/2 minutes left. From there, it seemed only a matter of time for another Wheeling goal that dcame during a 4-on-4 situation near the 15-minute mark. After playing a slap shot to his right, Muse kicked the rebound left, but a Nailer was waiting on his blind side and slipped the puck off his skates and into the back of the net for their third goal of the night.
"It's tough to sweep a team three times in a row," said Poss. "We had them 1-0. We (have to) to clamp down, play good defense and find a way to win the game 1-0, 2-1."
The Nailers added their fourth goal on an empty net in the final minute of play after the Blades pulled Muse in an effort to get back into the contest.
The Everblades (6-7-1) now prepare for a pair of weekend games Friday and Saturday nights when they welcome division rival Greenville to Germain Arena.