CALE Tanaka scored the game-winning goal in overtime as Blaze’s chances of making the Elite League play-offs improved after a dramatic 5-4 win over Cardiff Devils in south Wales.
Blaze led 4-1 going into the final seven minutes before Devils forced the additional five minutes after a light fightback but Tanaka pounced just 15 seconds from the end hand Blaze a much-needed victory.
After handing a debut to American forward Vladimir Nikiforov, Blaze made a lightning start with Jim Jorgensen scoring his first goal for the club after just 22 seconds.
Tanaka doubled Blaze’s lead on 15 minutes with Brent Walton reducing the deficit before Steve Goertzen netted the only goal of the second period and Jakub Sindel made it 4-1 with seven minutes left on the clock.
But two Devils goals inside 46 seconds from Carl Hudson and Andrew Lord set up a tense finish and Jake Morissette then made it 4-4 to take the game to extra time.
And it was Tanaka who came up with the decisive strike to make it three successive wins for Blaze as they moved two points clear off Edinburgh.
“It was a big win but there was relief more than anything,” said Blaze coach Chuck Weber.
“We had a pretty good first period, we were on our heels for most of the second and I liked our first 10 minutes of the third.
“There are a lot of lessons to be learned but it is nice when you can learn those lessons and still pick up the two points.”
On the performance of Nikiforov, Weber added: “There is still work to do on his conditioning to get him up to speed.
“We saw some flashes but he will now have a good week’s practice.”
Blaze are next in action this weekend with a double header which starts with a trip to Dundee Stars on Saturday and they will remain in Scotland to take on Edinburgh the following evening.