After thrashing the Chicago Express 7-2 on Wednesday night, the Florida Everblades expected a better game out of the Express Friday night at Germain Arena.
They got what they expected, but the Everblades matches the challenge and beat the Express 4-2.
The Express hit the ice hard and fast, firing off 15 shots in the opening period against netminder John Muse, who returned to the Everblades Friday after a stint in the AHL. Muse turned away every shot he faced in the first period.
The offense did the rest by scoring twice in the first 20 minutes.
The first goal came off the stick of Kory Falite, who deflected David Rutherford's pass into the net 13 minutes into the game. Ryan Donald notched his third goal of the year to send the Blades into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead.
"Muse kept us in the game," said Blades coach Greg Poss. "The 2-0 lead was very deceiving. We weren't very happy with the way we played, but we got better in the second period and a little better in the third period ... but we are going to have a play a lot better (Saturday)."
The Express refused to go quietly, battling hard in the second period. Chicago finally scored on Muse (28 saves) 6:21 into the period, to creep back into it.
Before the Express got their second goal, however, the Blades made it 3-1 on Matt Marquardt's 15th goal of the year.
The final period was more a battle of wills than of goals, as both teams looked to their defense to generate scoring opportunities.
Brayden Irwin tallied the Blades' last goal on an empty net.
The Blades (20-14-3) and Express skate for the third and final time Saturday night at Germain Arena.