Lightning will be hoping to rescue their season with one last chance of silverware as they host Guildford Flames in the play-off quarter finals on Saturday at MK Arena.
With a place in the finals weekend at Coventry at stake Lightning know they will have to be at their best to overcome Flames - the return leg is in Surrey on Sunday.
In six league meetings this year Lightning have beaten Flames twice with Paul Dixon’s outfit claiming honours four times - one of those Guildford wins going to overtime.
However Lightning will need better results than those in their final two league games at the weekend. They went down 3-1 to Basingstoke Bison before a sell-out crowd at home on Saturday before losing 4-1 at Peterborough Phantoms 24 hours later.
Nick Poole’s charges suffered another injury blow on Saturday when import defenceman Petr Horava was forced to retire after the second period with a knock.
Already missing injured Canadian Curtis Huppe coach Poole made his first appearance for the team in more than a year at Peterborough. Huppe was named on the team sheet for both games in order to become eligible for the play-offs. However he did not ice.
The encounter with Bison was a high paced affair with both teams showing total commitment. In the end the points were decided by a couple of errors - the most notable perhaps being the host’s slow start to the second period which saw Ciaran Long equalise within 23 seconds of the restart.
Lightning took the lead on 16mins 58secs when Michael Farn fired in a long range blast which goalie Dean Skinns blocked but did not hold and Milan Kostourek pounced to tap in the rebound.
The visitors then edged in front on 27mins 52secs. Lightning were reduced to four skaters for having too many men on the ice when Joe Greener was the supplier for player coach Doug Sheppard to score on the powerplay.
Bison had a powerplay in the 37th minute after Farn cross checked Michael Wales right in front of the referee. However it came to nothing as the second period ended 2-1 in favour of the Hampshire side.
They wrapped up the points with what was the game deciding goal when Sheppard sent Long away up centre ice to beat Wall one on one at 47mins 29secs.
A few seconds later Bison defenceman Miroslav Vantroba was called for holding but his side held out while a man short, enabling them to see out the rest of the game relatively little danger.
Against Peterborough Poole made the pass for city outfit’s only goal by Michael Farn but couldn’t prevent the Cambridgeshire side from ending on top.
Phantoms opened the scoring after Grant McPherson was penalised for hooking in the sixth minute with Milan Baranyk setting up Marc Levers to beat goalie Jordan Hedley on 8mins 32secs.
It was not long before Phantoms doubled their advantage when Darius Pliskauskas was on the mark from Luke Ferrara’s pass at 10mins 40secs.
A spot of fisticuffs followed less than a minute later when McPherson engaged with Mason Webster as Chris Wiggins did battle with Bradley Moore - all four given four minutes for roughing.
The move leading to what proved to be a consolation goal for Lightning was started by Ross Bowers who found Poole - wearing an unfamiliar number 15 shirt - and he in turn was provider for Farn to send a shot past netminder Janis Auzins at 14mins 16secs.
The second session was only 1lmin 14secs old when Phantoms added to their tally with Luke Ferrara getting on the score sheet, assisted by Slava Koulikov and Cameron McGiffin.
Phantoms thought they had added a fourth goal in the 24th minute but referee Andrew Miller washed out the effort.
Lightning failed to make anything of a hooking penalty on Donatas Kumeliauskas before they were awarded a penalty shot when Milan Kostourek was brought down when clear on goal. Kostourek took the shot but was unable to find a way past Auzins.
Phantoms from rounded off their tally with an unassisted Pliskauskas goal on 46mins 49secs.