Walleye take bite out of Gladiators

TOLEDO, Ohio — Marshall Everson found the back of the net just 29 seconds into the game, but the Toledo Walleye answered with the final four tallies in a 4-1 triumph Saturday night at the Huntington Center.

Everson opened the scoring early, taking a pass from Casey Pierro-Zabotel in the slot and sliding a shot past Toledo goalie Hannu Toivonen to the far side. Matt Clune had the second assist.

Toledo (19-38-3-1) rebounded with two fortunate bounces. Ryan Flanigan scored a goal at 16:33 of the first by banking the puck in off the back of Gwinnett (25-35-3-2) goaltender Josh Unice from the far goal line. Matt Abercrombie put the Walleye ahead for good nearly two minutes later, deflecting the puck off Unice and in from the low slot.

Brett Perlini kept the Walleye roll going in the second period, scoring at 1:12 and 4:20 to extend the Toledo lead to 4-1 and chasing Holland, Ohio, native Unice from the game. Mark Guggenberger made a couple of stellar breakaway stops in relief, but Toivonen kept Gwinnett at bay between the pipes for Toledo. The former NHLer got some help too; Gwinnett hit the post several times in the middle period.

Gwinnett failed to gain any ground in the third, as Toivonen made 34 straight saves after letting the first shot of the night in. Unice took the loss, surrendering four goals on 14 shots. Guggenberger stopped all 22 shots he faced in relief. The win was Toledo’s first at home since Jan. 26, a span of 12 games.

The Gladiators again face Toledo at 5:15 p.m. today at the Huntington Center.