Lewis Christie claimed his first goal of the season and Frankie Bakrlik ended a scoring drought lasting nearly two months when Smith Recycling MK Lightning saw off the challenge of Guildford Flames in a 5-2 win at MK Arena on Saturday.
Stay at home defenceman Christie rarely ventures past the offensive blue line and so it was when he unleashed a fierce blast from there to put MK 3-2 ahead 13 seconds before the first break – the shot going through traffic before it went past ex-Lightning netminder, Dean Skinns.
Czech Bakrlik then extended the home side’s lead with a powerplay rocket shot 4mins 51secs into the middle period.
The game was beyond the midpoint of the first period before either netminder was beaten – and it was Lightning who opened the scoring after Andy McKinney was handed a two minute plus 10 penalty for checking Craig Scott from behind on 12mins 38secs.
On fire Jordan Cownie added to the five goals he had scored in Lightning’s three encounters with Hull Pirates by taking Antti Hölli’s pass and splitting the Guildford Flames defence,, racing up centre ice to beat former MK goalie Dean Skinns with shot high into the net on 13mins 16secs for a powerplay goal.
But Lightning fans’ joy was short-lived as, straight from the face-off, Flames went on the offensive with Ben Campbell setting up Kari Sihvonen to send a shot past netminder Przemy Odrobny a matter of 20 seconds later.
When James Griffin was sin-binned for roughing on 16mins 1sec Flames made the most of the powerplay – even though there was more than a suspicion of offside when Campbell skated away to put them ahead one second from the end of the man advantage.
Once more the team in front soon conceded an equaliser – this time it came 57 seconds later with Leigh Jamieson earning the assist on man of the match Milan Baranyk‘s fierce shot from the left.
Skinns was undone again less than a minute later with Cownie and Hölli having a hand in Christie’s shot which Skinns probably didn’t see until it was too late.
Lightning failed to capitalise on a delay of the game call on Campbell 41 seconds after the restart while Flames were unable to make anything of a penalty on Baranyk for interference which gave them a brief powerplay.
The next call though put clear daylight between the two contenders – Jez Lundin sinbinned for interference on Blaz Emersic – Bakrlik registering his first goal since he scored in the 2-0 win against Basingstoke Bison on December 2.
Less than two minutes later Lightning found themselves defending a short-handed spell after Griffin was sent to the cooler for elbows – Odrobny dealing successfully with attempts by Lundin and Jens Eriksson while Scott went close at the other end.
A hooking call on Sam Waller who impeded Lewis Hook produced a close call for Skinns in the shape of Emersic but that apart, the Flames goal was hardly threatened.
Back at even strength Hook then danced through the Flames defence but his shot hit the post ahead of Andrew Hemmings seeing Odrobny block his effort a short while after.
Lightning were unable to find a way to goal when Sam Godfrey was penalised for a high stick on captain Adam Carr early in the final session but that did not stop them effectively putting the game to bed soon after.
Baranyk went behind the net and fed Scott who slotted in to the left of Skinns for Lightning’s fifth goal on 44mins 58secs.
There was just one more job for Lightning to do to ensure there was no way back into the game for Flames as Tom Carlon was given two minutes for roughing.
However the MK goal remained intact – Hook taking on both Eriksson and Danny Meyers at the same time and winning the puck to send it away from danger.
From then on Flames seemed increasingly to be giving up the battle and MK coach Pete Russell was able to give youngsters Glenn Billing and Luc Johnson valuable shifts in the final ten minutes.
Two more points kept the pressure up on league leaders, Telford Tigers who also won, against Sheffield Steeldogs.
Man of the Match: #28 Milan Baranyk
Report: Paul Brookman