A dramatic goal with 33.8 seconds remaining by captain Adam Carr snatched victory for MK Lightning against old rivals Peterborough Phantoms at Planet Ice on Saturday.
Lightning had to come from 2-0 behind to seize the win in a game which did not really spark into life until the third period.
But once again Lightning could not make it a four point weekend as they staged an embarrassing second period collapse when Guildford Flames scored seven unanswered goals in as many minutes at the Spectrum Centre the following day to secure a 7-1 win. It was MK’s biggest loss since March 2010.
In that game Lightning replaced goalie Stephen Wall with Alex Mettam after the fifth goal but even he could little as the defence went AWOL for long spells in the middle period.
With victory already assured at the second break, Guildford were able to rest first choice netminder Mark Lee to give back-up James Hadfield valuable ice time.
On Saturday there was little to choose between the teams in the first period, with Phantoms’ lively third line of youngsters Lewis Hook, Jordan Cownie and Will Weldon looking dangerous at times.
However, it was a Nathan Pollard set up that saw Joe Graham register the first goal at 10mins 13secs – the power of his shot carrying it across the line after goalie Mettam only partially blocked it.
In the final minute of the period Kamil Tvrdek went round the net with the puck but goalie Damian King had the gap covered for his shot.
Lightning sought to get back in the game early in the second session and in the first 20 seconds Leigh Jamieson supplied Blaz Emersic, but King met the challenge while he was also able to push away Ross Bowers’ effort shortly after.
Lightning’s defence was caught out when Hook on the right was able to find Cownie to slot the puck past Mettam for the visitors’ second after 22mins 46secs.
Lightning had a powerplay chance when Declan Balmer was penalised for cross checking but they failed to get a single shot on goal with the man advantage.
As the game approached the second break, Lightning’s coaching staff made line changes with Tvrdek moving to partner Jamieson and Emersic and Adam Brittle switching to play alongside Janne Jokila and Adam Carr.
Eventually the move paid off with some real pressure on the Peterborough goal allowing Carr to capitalise on a moment of confusion to score on 38mins 23secs.
The hosts’ stepped up the gas in the third period with Tvrdek having a fine effort blocked before Grant McPherson, on the eve of 26th birthday, scrambled the puck in unassisted.
Just 61 seconds later Brittle found Jamieson who shot into the gap to the left of King to make it 3-2.
Phantoms called a timeout and within four minutes were back on terms when Jeff Glowa supplied Maris Ziedins to beat Mettam on 53mins 11secs.
With 1min 47secs remaining Lightning also called a timeout as the game looked to be going into overtime. But Phantoms hadn’t reckoned with Carr who won the puck on the edge of the neutral zone and was able to speed away to beat King with the clock showing 33.8secs remaining to grab a 4-3 win.
Tvrdek was the provider when Emersic put Lightning in front after 6mins 2secs the following day at Guildford. That proved to be a rare moment of joy for the visitors who looked good value for their lead until the first break.
Little did they know what was to come with a second session collapse which started when Lukas Zatopek was penalised for tripping in the 22nd minute.
Just over a minute into the powerplay – at 23mins 11secs - Jozef Kohut beat Wall to level the tallies and by 24mins 44secs it was 2-1 to the home side – Kohut again on the mark, this time unassisted.
Nick Chinn was called for cross checking giving Flames another powerplay and once more they made the most of it with Paul Dixon the provider for Curtis Huppe to make it 3-1 at 28mins 11secs.
Ben Campbell then struck unassisted at 29mins 28secs ahead of getting the assist on Nathan Rempel’s goal 30 seconds later.
That signalled the departure of Wall – replaced by Mettam – but he too was picking the puck out of the net on 30mins 24secs, the scorer this time being Andrew Sharp.
The nightmare didn’t end there though as Huppe added Guildford’s seventh at 31mins 42secs.
Lightning outshot Flames 10-6 in the final period, but even with the benefit of having the hosts’ second choice goalie in place they could not find a way back into the game on a night they won’t want to remember.