Nottingham Panthers 4-1 MK Lightning (28th Nov)
By Paul Brookman
Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning slipped to their second defeat in four days at the hands of Nottingham Panthers when they went down 4-1 at the Motorpoint Arena on Wednesday.
Two late second period goals put Panthers in the driving seat after there was little to choose between the two outfits earlier in the game. An empty net goal in the last minute finally sealed Lightning’s fate.
Lightning gave a debut to new Croatian defenceman Ivan Šijan but were without Rihards Grigors and the still suspended Cole Shudra.
There were powerplay chances for both teams in the first ten minutes but neither was able to take advantage – Panthers called for too many men after only 2mins 36secs while James Griffin was consigned to the sin bin on 8mins 12secs for hooking.
The hosts were again a man short – once more for too many men on 10mins 18secs and yet again there was no breakthrough for the opposition. It was not until 18mins 19secs that the deadlock was broken – and the goal went to Panthers when Luke Pither found the net from a Marek Tvrdon set up.
The start of the second session saw Lightning defending another penalty kill as Šijan was called for delaying the game and they were quickly two men short when they were spotted with too many men – in between Tim Wallace had forced a great stop from goalie Michael Garnett.
Back at even strength Wallace supplied Clay Anderson with Garnett forced to block with the shaft of his stick.
A five on three powerplay for Lightning came and went with no change to score but the visitors eventually levelled as Georgs Golovkovs and Wallace were involved in setting up Martin Mazanec for a shot which went between Garnett’s legs at 32mins 23secs.
It was not long though before Panthers edged in front again with Tim Billingsley supplying Alex Guptil to beat goalie Patrick Killeen after 33mins 52secs.
Before the period end Guptil turned provider for Robert Lachowicz to make it 3-1 at 39mins 46secs.
There was an early chance for MK in the third period when Alex Bolduc went for tripping – Garnett making two big saves on the powerplay while a Wallace effort hit the pipework.
Panthers’ goal also remained intact as Ollie Betteridge’s interference penalty left them a man short with just over 11 minutes to go while the home outfit could find no way through after Michael Fine was penalised for a high stick after 57mins 7secs.
Fine’s return to the ice allowed MK to withdraw Killeen for the extra skater with 45 seconds left – a move which provided the opening for Lachowicz to add his second on the unguarded goal 10 seconds later to make it 4-1 to Panthers.
Man of the match: Georgs Golovkovs (Sponsored by Cineworld)