It took a powerplay goal 18 seconds from the final buzzer to eventually sink Milton Keynes Lightning’s hopes of a win in their first ever visit to Sheffield Steelers on Wednesday.
For much of the encounter at Sheffield Arena the sides traded goals and at the end of the second period it was Lightning who deservedly led by the odd goal.
Steelers head Paul Thompson admitted that for the first half of the game Lightning were the better side and it was not until the latter stages that his side finally clicked into gear.
Steelers were first off the mark when Mark Matheson set up Colton Fretter to defeat goalie Miika Wiikman after 5mins 7secs with a shot through traffic which gave the Finn little chance.
But it was not long before Lightning were level with Quin Pompi and Ludwig Karlsson involved as Francis Verreault-Paul sent the puck past netminder Ervins Mustukovs on 7mins 35secs.
The visitors then gave Steelers something to think about when man of the match Paul Phillips made it 2-1 less than a minute later at 8mins 24secs, the supply coming from Carl Hudson and Ben Foster.
A high stick call on Matt Nickerson gave Steelers a way back into the game with a powerplay starting 9mins 6secs into the match and they didn’t waste it with Matheson gaining his second assist of the night to set up Matt Marquardt for the equaliser at 10mins 38secs.
Joonas Ronnberg was sin binned for the Steelers in the 13th minute but this time no goal resulted and neither did it when Lightning’s Ashley Tait was caught hooking his opponent 90 seconds or so later.
Wiikman had to be at his best to make a great save at the post before Lightning had a half chance stopped in the final minute of the first session which ended all square at 2-2.
Lightning made a super start to the middle stanza - scoring after just 53 seconds through Kevin King with a high shot which rocketed past Mustukovs – Phillips and Hudson also involved.
Tait then had a chance to increase the lead but was unable to make the finishing touch before both netminders were called on to make big saves – Lightning having the better of the opportunities at this stage.
Despite that they couldn’t build on the lead as the period finished with Lightning holding a one goal advantage.
Steelers caused a scare or two early on in the third periods, nearly converting a rebound and seeing another shot deflected high and out of play.
The pressure eventually told when John Armstrong equalised on 47mins 30secs from Great Britain international Ben O’Connor’s supply after a goalmouth scramble.
The match eventually swung Steelers’ way after Karlsson was assessed a four minute penalty for high sticks – soon followed by an interference penalty on the hosts’ Levi Nelson. With 1min 47secs remaining Lightning’s Phillips was sin binned for tripping and on the powerplay Armstrong sealed the points for Steelers with 18 seconds to the buzzer.
MK immediately called a time out and pulled Wiikman in favour of the extra skater but it was too late for another goal.