Flyers shot down as Lightning end on a high

MK Lightning vs Fife Flyers | Pic: Tony Sargent
MK Lightning vs Fife Flyers | Pic: Tony Sargent

A second period fightback from Fife Flyers was quelled as Milton Keynes Lightning finished the weekend on a high with a 4-2 win at Planet Ice on Sunday.

It went some way to making up for a disappointing 5-2 defeat at Dundee Stars on Saturday – the Tayside outfit on a six game winning streak after struggling for several weeks.

MK Lightning vs Fife Flyers | Pic: Tony Sargent

MK Lightning vs Fife Flyers | Pic: Tony Sargent

On Sunday Lightning took a 2-0 lead with a pair of strikes by Robbie Baillargeon, only to see that wiped out when the Scots outfit hit back with two middle session goals to set up a tense final 20 minutes.

However home fans’ fears were dispelled with two more goals to put MK in the driving seat as the game went into the last ten minutes. Despite Flyers calling a timeout with just over three minutes remaining, following which they withdrew netminder Shane Owen in favour of the extra skater, they were unable to snatch a third goal.

Lightning edged in front on 12mins 10secs after Ivan Šijan’s blast rebounded off the boards behind the Fife goal – Baillargeon on hand to sweep the puck into the net.

When Flyers’ Mike Cazzola was penalised for interference after 17mins 17secs Baillargeon rifled the puck into the net after taking Michael Fine’s pass from the right less than minute later on 17mins 55secs.

MK Lightning vs Fife Flyers | Pic: Tony Sargent

MK Lightning vs Fife Flyers | Pic: Tony Sargent

Lightning suffered a blow within the first couple of minutes of the start of the middle session when Mike Cazzola scrambled the puck home in a moment of confusion in front of the Lightning net on 21mins 11secs.

Increasingly as the period went on Lightning were guilty of failing to come up with the end product when through on goal – Andreas Valdix twice and Radek Meidl both having great opportunities, the latter shooting straight at the goalie.

The misses cost Lightning with 2mins 56secs of the period remaining as Fife levelled with Evan Bloodoff scoring unassisted after another scramble in front of goal.

There was all to play for as the third period got under way and the decisive moment came after Jordan Buesa was sent to the cooler for slashing after 43mins 49secs. Only ten seconds later Valdix and Fine combined to punish Flyers with the go ahead goal for Lightning, the latter player the scorer.

Tim Wallace then put daylight between the teams with an unlikely goal – Owen seemed to have stopped the puck, only for it to go through his legs after 48mins 26secs to make it 4-2 to the hosts.

Lightning lost ground on the teams immediately above them in the Elite League when they were defeated 5-2 at Dundee on Saturday. However it took until the 53 minute mark before Lightning were, to all intents and purposes, consigned to another road loss.

Lightning went in front on 12mins 50secs when Martin Mazanec, with options to pass to his right, instead elected to blast the puck high into the net – the assists going to Michael Fine and Robbie Baillargeon.

There was an early opportunity for Cole Shudra in the second session but goalie Pontus Sjogren was equal to it. The save proved significant for, seconds later, Stars grabbed an equaliser through Lukas Lundvald.

The goal was the spur for the home side who had the better chances in the following few minutes although Sjogren made a good stop from Tim Wallace before Stars’ go ahead goal by Drydn Dow on 36mins 45secs. The goal was only awarded after a video review – there being a suspicion that the puck was kicked in.

Stars increased their advantage to two goals on 46mins 25secs with Charles Corcoran and Shawn Boutin involved as Matt Bissonette finished off seconds after Lundvald’s effort had hit the metalwork.

Lightning could make nothing of a 49th minute slashing penalty on Johan Andersson and after Stars returned to full strength they punished the visitors with a fourth goal at 53mins 1secs. This time the scorer was Matt Marquardt.

There was a further fruitless powerplay for MK with just over four minutes remaining – during which Killeen was withdrawn for the extra skater. The goalie remained off the ice as Stars returned to full strength and it eventually paid dividends with Wallace and Georgs Golvokovs bagging the helpers when Nelson Armstrong unleashed a blue line rocket to beat Sjogren at 58mins 27secs.

But any lingering hopes of a late turn around were extinguished with Corcoran’s goal to make it 5-2 13 seconds from the buzzer.