Milton Keynes Lightning suffered double defeats at the hands of Scottish opposition at the weekend to further dent any play-off qualification hopes that they may have.
On Saturday at Planet Ice a third period fightback by Lightning ended in disappointment when they went down 6-5 in overtime to Fife Flyers. The following day they endured a fruitless trip to Braehead Arena as they were crushed 8-3 by Glasgow Clan.
Against Fife they trailed at the second break and it looked as though they were heading for a convincing defeat. But a shorthanded goal from joint coach Tim Wallace in the opening minute of the final session sparked an unlikely turn around.
And when Robbie Baillargeon put the puck into the net on the powerplay with less than 30 seconds of regulation time remaining it sent the game into the extra period before Joe Basaraba scored the sudden death winner for Fife on 62mins 54secs.
Flyers went in front when Ivan Šijan was sitting out a tripping call – Carlo Finucci finding space to score after 7mins 23secs. Lightning did not take long to reply as Wallace shot to the right of goalie Shane Owen on 9mins 2secs.
The home side then took advantage when Paul Crowder was penalised for hooking in the 13th minute – defenceman Nelson Armstrong’s shot through traffic completely eluding Owen on 14mins 50secs.
Lightning’s lead was wiped out when Flyers’ man of the match Brett Bulmer hit the leveller on 22mins 40secs. That sparked Flyers to greater efforts and Bulmer’s blast beat netminder Patrick Killeen after 27mins 15secs.
Lightning’s plight worsened as Chase Schaber scored on 32mins 45secs with a weak effort which, on a different night, Killeen would have probably dealt with.
Within seconds of the start of the third session Valdix penalised for holding. Despite being shorthanded MK were able to break out with Wallace beating Owen with a great backhand shot at 40mins 30secs.
Six seconds after a penalty on Marcus Basara ended Armstrong bagged his second goal of the game with rocket from just inside the blue line to equalise on 47mins 46secs.
As James Griffin was penalised for slashing Flyers made the most of the powerplay with Danick Gauthier putting his side 5-4 ahead on 50mins 55secs.
There was to be another twist though before the end of regulation time. After James Griffin (slashing) and Danick Gauthier (roughing) clashed, resulting in penalties, MK called a timeout and took Killeen off for the extra skater.
The skater advantage became two as Crowder was caught hooking Baillargeon. The MK forward exacted his revenge in the best way possible when he squared things up again from close range with 28.6 seconds remaining.
That sent the game into overtime ended by Basaraba’s goal for Flyers.
There was a heavier defeat the next day at Glasgow Clan when MK started the game down to four defencemen following the injury to Martin Mazanec in the previous night’s encounter. MK quickly fell behind on a penalty kill after Baillargeon was sin binned for holding on 1min 19secs. Matt Beca scored the first of a hat-trick of goals at 2mins 13secs.
Both teams were down to four skaters as Craig Peacock made it 2-0 to the hosts after 3mins 39secs.
Sixteen seconds from the end of a tripping penalty on Scott Pitt defenceman Ivan Šijan found Wallace to beat goalie Joel Rumpel to reduce the deficit.
But the visitors’ went two goals behind again through Brit Matt Haywood on 25mins 54secs and the same player struck again, shorthanded, after 34mins 32secs.
Once more Lightning had a brief glimmer of hope as Nelson Armstrong and Radek Meidl had a hand in Georgs Golovkovs’ strike on 36mins 3secs – but again it was cancelled out quickly thanks to Rasmus Bjerrum 2mins 17secs from the interval.
MK could not capitalise on a hooking penalty imposed on Gerard Hanson and it proved costly as Beca hit his second goal after 48mins 4secs.
The travellers then suffered a two minutes plus 10 minute penalty on Andreas Valdix at the same time as Wallace was caught kneeing his opponent. MK Having survived the penalty conceded again when Beca completed his trio at 54mins 31secs.
Connolly rounded off the Clan scoring at 56mins 4secs to make it 8-2 before Baillargeon grabbed a late consolation for MK with 1min 2secs remaining.