Nottingham Panthers 6-2 MK Lightning (22 Dec)

 By Paul Brookman

A pair of Nottingham Panthers goals in 40 seconds finally saw brave Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning succumb to a 6-2 defeat at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday.

Supported by two coach loads of vociferous fans, plus those who had travelled by car, Lightning, going into the third period trailing 2-1, were still very much in an Elite League game they had taken the lead in through Cole Shudra. But that changed by the 44th minute thanks to strikes from Robert Farmer and Luke Pither.

Lightning were missing Andrea Valdix, serving the first of a two game suspension for a check to the head of Jake Morissette during Thursday’s clash with Cardiff Devils. But that did not stop them having the better of the scoring chances in the opening minutes.

Panthers’ netminder made a great stop from Georgs Golovkovs in the 14th minute before Shudra, on a breakaway set up by Trevor Morbeck, slotted home on a delayed penalty to put the visitors ahead at 16mins 47secs.

MK survived a two minute holding penalty on Martin Mazanec at 17mins 36secs, only to concede two seconds after its expiry when Tommy Hughes was provider for Brett Perlini to beat netminder Patrick Killeen.

James Griffin was next to warm the penalty box bench when he was called for slashing in the 26th minute. That short-handed spell passed without damage to the Lightning scoreline before Panthers threatened as Justin Kovacs went on a 29th minute breakaway, snuffed out by Killeen’s save.

Once more there was no change to the tallies when Nelson Armstrong was sent to the cooler for tripping after 34mins 33secs. Having survived that short-handed spell the travellers quickly conceded again – this time it was Mark Hurtubise who broke Killeen’s resolve, aided by Dylan Richard and Perlini on 37mins 7secs to give the home outfit a slender one goal lead at the second intermission.

Lightning were on the penalty kill again within 3 mins 9secs of the start of the third session – within 45 seconds it was to prove costly when Robert Farmer registered, assisted by Tim Billingsley and Pither. The goal, however, was only given after the officials, Tom Darnell and Chris Wells, had consulted a video reply

That put MK back at full strength but Killeen was soon picking the puck out of the net again when Ollie Betteridge supplied Pither to make it 4-1.

Panthers’ goal remained intact when Stephen Lee was penalised for cross-checking in the 46th minute before, back at even strength, Radek Meidl tested Munson ahead of Golvokovs setting up Owen Griffiths to narrow the gap to two goals after 49mins 40secs.

It was not long though before Panthers hit goal number five, experienced Brit Farmer scoring, aided by Kovacs, at 51mins 22secs – signalling the replacement of Killeen by back-up goalie Adam Goss.

Goss was unable to prevent Panthers from adding one further goal when Hurtubise turned provider for Richard on 57mins 43secs to bring the score to 6-2.

Man of the match: Owen Griffiths.

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