Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning’s hopes of bagging two vital home points ended in disappointment as they gave up a 3-1 lead to lose 4-3 to Dundee Stars at MK Arena on Saturday.
Lightning got off to a flying start, scoring within 37 seconds and making a swift reply after Stars equalised in the second minute.
But after extending the lead to two goals in the eighth minute the Scots visitors were able to claw their way back into the game to trail by a solitary goal by the first break.
Stars then wiped out the home advantage within a minute of the restart before breaking home supporters’ hearts with a 50th minute powerplay strike, from which there was no return for Lightning whose chances of victory were severely hit as the ran into penalty trouble on too many occasions.
Dundee netminder Travis Fullerton hardly had time to warm up before Christian Isackson bore down on him and found the net with a close range effort on 37 seconds to get MK off to the best possible start.
Lightning goalie Miika Wiikman was also similarly largely unemployed prior to Stars’ leveller set up by Cody Carlson and scored by Malcolm Gould at 2mins 18secs.
Within seconds though the hosts were back in front with Denny Kearney and Kevin King involved as Isackson registered his second strike after 2mins 35secs.
Lightning survived an interference penalty on Alex Forbes in the fourth minute before extending their advantage when Kearney fed King from the right to blast the puck into the net on 8mins 34secs.
But from then on things were no so rosy for Lightning with Evan Stoflet called for tripping and then Matt Nickerson joining him in the sin bin for slashing, giving Stars a five on three powerplay from which Gould said thank you very much with his second strike on 14min 4secs.
Referees Tom Darnell and Matt Rose called upon goal line video technology after Dundee claimed Lukas Lundvald’s shot had crossed the goal line as Wiikman smothered the shot with just fewer than three minutes of the first period remaining. Stars’ appeal was dismissed.
There was no mistake though when Stars player coach Omar Pacha supplied Lundvald to beat Wiikman just a minute after the restart.
Lightning had a powerplay opportunity when Jimmy Jensen was sin binned for slashing in the 27th minute but instead it was Stars who went closest to scoring as Francis Verreault-Paul lost possession with Gould seeing his hot saved by Wiikman.
As the period went on Lightning’s chances were hampered by a series of penalties – Kearney serving time for interference, followed by a tripping call on Wiikman after former MK star, Jordan Cownie, almost had the puck in the net.
Play was then stopped while Stars made a belated call for a video replay of a ‘goal’ which had not even prompted the goal judge’s red light to be lit.
Lightning attempted to step up the gas in the third period but they were unable to break down the Stars’ defence although Isackson was desperately unlucky not to score when set up by Kearney in the 44th minute.
A couple of minutes later Kearney was the provider for Guillaume Doucet but his shot was blocked before Lewis Hook beat Pacha to go up the right. Unfortunately he could not finish by defeating Fullerton.
Lightning’s downfall came after Isackson was penalised for holding the opponent’s stick in the 49th minute. The hosts were caught out with three men on the attack as Jimmy Jensen fed Gabriel Lévesque in a counter attack with Wiikman standing no chance with the winning goal on 50mins 25secs.
The home outfit’s chances of an immediate response were hampered as they quickly had to defend another five on three powerplay – Verreault-Paul and Nickerson both in the sin bin at the same time.
In the dying minutes of the game coach Peter Russell reduced the lines to two – switching his most potent forces around in a bid for an equaliser.
With less than two minutes remaining Russell called a time out and straight away Wiikman was withdrawn in favour of the extra skater but it was too late to make a difference.
Man of the match: Christian Isackson.
By Paul Brookman