Milton Keynes Lightning ended their three day road trip to Scotland on a high on Sunday when they dispatched bottom of the Elite League side Edinburgh Capitals 5-2.
It followed disappointment in the previous two days’ games against Fife Flyers when they were edged out by a 3-2 margin before losing 4-3 at Braehead Clan on Saturday.
Against Capitals popular Polish netminder Przemy Odrobny was preferred between the pipes over Finn Miika Wiikman who was awarded the Elite League player of the week accolade for his performances in the previous weekend’s games – the second MK player to receive it following Denny Kearney a few weeks ago.
Despite Lightning’s loss at Kirkcaldy against Flyers Wiikman was man of the match for the third game in succession when his team battled back to tie the scores at 2-2 before Ričards Birziņš broke away to score short-handed to secure a narrow win for the hosts.
It was against the run of play when Shayne Stockton supplied Charlie Mosey to open the Flyers tally after 8mins 58secs.
Despite a couple of penalties on Lightning later in the period and early in the second the visitors’ penalty kill units did their job in preventing any further score. It was not until the 28th minute that Chase Schaber made it 2-0.
Lightning cut the deficit on 34mins 40secs when Kevin Gibson registered unassisted and less than two minutes later it was game on when Paul Verreault-Paul equalised.
The momentum was with Lightning and penalties on Flyers Ian Young and MK’s Guillaume Doucet on 47mins 58secs, for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct respectively, were quickly followed by a hooking call on the home side’s Evan Bloodoff.
It proved to be the decisive moment in the game – for all the wrong reasons – as Birziņš broke away to score short-handed to seal a 3-2 Flyers’ win.
The next day there was again disappointment for Pete Russell’s men when they went down 4-3 to Braehead in Glasgow.
Lightning fought back to go within one goal of the home side in the third period in was too late to make a difference.
Clan broke through for when Ryan Potulny beat Wiikman on 11mins 28secs and 90 seconds or so later the home outfit doubled their advantage on the powerplay through Tyler Shattock after Denny Kearney was given a hooking penalty.
A too many men call on the Clan in the 16th minute saw Lightning grab a goal back on the powerplay – the scorer Guillaume Doucet at 17mins 41secs.
But Braehead took a 3-1 lead into the first break thanks to a Tyler Scofield powerplay goal 35 seconds from the interval.
The second period was 6mins 42secs old when Matt Nickerson and the Clan’s Jacob Doty went toe to toe – both receiving five minute majors for fighting.
Once that was over Braehead added to their tally thanks to a marker from Potulny after 32mins 26secs.
Despite more penalty trouble for Lightning Kevin King was able to put Kyle Essery away to make it 4-2 on 39mins 28secs.
That goal gave Lightning a glimmer of hope going into the third period and Francis Verreault-Paul cut the gap to one goal on 50mins 4secs.
Soon after Doty was involved again when he clashed with King – again the penalties were five minute majors for fighting.
However the equalising goal to send the game into overtime eluded the travellers.
There was finally some joy for Lightning when they visited the historic Murrayfield rink in Edinburgh for the first time on Sunday – coming away with the win against Capitals.
Doucet struck for Lightning’s first on 7mins 22secs – aided by Denny Kearney and Francis Verreault-Paul. That proved to be the only goal of the first period.
Within 49 seconds of the start of the middle session both Captials’ Konstantin Teslyukevich and Lightning’s Lewis Hook were given a two minute rest on hooking and holding the stick penalties before Verreault-Paul joined them for slashing after 2mins 5secs.
On the four on three powerplay Capitals struck for the leveller as Mike Cazzola quickly beat Odrobny.
Denny Kearney registered his ninth goal of the league campaign on the powerplay 39 seconds later and less than two minutes later on 13mins 23 the game slipped away from Capitals as Kyle Essery, made it 3-1.
Capitals survived a short-handed spell hanging over into the third session but they could not prevent Kevin King from scoring at 42mins 17secs.
The home outfit’s Dillon Lawrence found the net for his team’s second goal 8mins 5secs into the period before Verreault-Paul finished of Lightning’s tally with his eighth league goal 2mins 3secs from the buzzer.