Milton Keynes Lightning finally broke their 10 game losing streak with a 4-3 win over Dundee Stars following a tension filled penalty shoot out at Planet Ice on Saturday.
Despite the Scottish outfit taking a one goal lead into the first break MK established a 3-1 advantage at the second interval, only to see that wiped out by two Stars goals in seven minutes to force the game into overtime.
When the extra five minutes failed to decide the match penalty shots were called for. However when both teams were unable to register on their first three attempts it looked as though fans were in for a long night.
But then Robbie Baillargeon dummied Stars’ netminder, Mathew Michie, to slot in and break the deadlock before Lightning goalie Patrick Killeen’s services were not required when Stars’ next penalty taker Lukas Lundvald went wide.
The roof was raised as Andreas Valdix fired in for the hosts and then Killeen stopped Cownie’s shot.
Ironically MK’s last win had been at Dundee on January 3 – coach Tim Wallace netting in overtime for an identical 4-3 success.
Dundee have now gone on a three game losing run, putting them out of the play-off spots. MK’s post season hopes have already gone but they can set themselves little targets such as reaching 30 points and possibly 36 from the remaining 15 encounters.
For long periods of the first session on Saturday it looked as though neither side would score.
With James Griffin playing right wing, his place in defence was filled by Trevor Morbeck. Georgs Golovkovs, the only absentee, was on Latvian international duty.
Griffin saw his third minute attempt pushed away by Michie’s stick before Morbeck shot through traffic, only to see the goalie save. Stars’ Charles Corcoran was equally unsuccessful when testing Killeen.
Stars exerted a lot of pressure but produced no goals when Ryan Lannon was sin binned for a high stick in the seventh minute.
A 15th minute tripping call on David Norris gave Dundee a brief powerplay – cancelled out 12 seconds later as Matt Marquardt was caught slashing Martin Mazanec.
Dundee eventually broke Killeen’s resolve with a goal credited to ex-Lightning star Cownie on 17mins 42secs.
With just 1min 48secs of the middle session played the scores were level thanks to an audacious advance forward by Mazanec, who took the puck from his defensive zone, beat at least three players and then, at second attempt, shot past Michie.
Two goals in just over 30 seconds put Lightning in control – Wallace showing his quality to take Michael Fine’s pass from the right and fire in on 32mins 54secs.
Michie was then caught slightly out of position as Radek Meidl’s back handed shot made it 3-1 at 33mins 26secs.
That gave MK a two goal cushion going into the third period – the first time in weeks that they have enjoyed that luxury.
However it was not the end of the drama because Stars edged back into the game when Drydn Dow set up Corcoran for his team’s second goal after 45mins 9secs.
Pacha Omar’s outfit levelled the tallies on 52mins 7secs when Killeen, already committed, was caught out by Cownie’s upstairs shot into the roof of the net.
So overtime and, ultimately, penalty shots loomed with a happy ending for Lightning at last, thanks to Baillargeon and Valdix.