MK Lightning just came up short despite a third period fightback with two goals inside the last seven minutes as they lost 4-2 to Peterborough Phantoms at Planet Ice on Saturday.
James Griffin scored Lightning’s first on 53mins 37secs, before Grant McPherson added a second 57mins 45secs which brought the home side to within a goal of Phantoms
In the only game of the weekend, MK celebrated the return of long term injury victims, Grant McPherson and Russ Cowley and it was a hooking penalty on the captain with 1min 12 secs remaining that was to prove decisive with Martins Susters netting on the powerplay at 59mins 28secs to seal victory for the visitors.
After a scoreless first-period Phantoms broke the deadlock just 53 seconds into the middle session when top scorer Petr Stepanek finally beat an on-form goalie Dean Skinns.
Lightning produced some good chances early on when Cale Tanaka was thwarted by netminder Jordan Marr and then Liam Stewart, in space, saw his effort pushed away by Marr, using his shoulder.
Nähri had two great opportunities – the first one was saved and then the second one failed to find the target before Callum Buglass tested Skinns with a slapshot.
When Lewis Christie was sin-binned for interference on 11mins 2secs Peterborough had the puck in the net but the effort was washed out and MK survived the shorthanded spell.
Skinns was able to deal with a Buglass blue line attempt before Griffin went up the right-wing and forced a good saved from Marr.
After Phantoms’ opening goal Lightning tried to level things up with a well-worked move that came to nothing and the visitors responded with a good effort from James Ferrara.
Jordan Stokes was penalised for slashing Connor Pollard on 25mins 54secs with Susters producing the best chances for the Cambridgeshire outfit as MK saw off the short-handed two minutes.
Cowley tried to set up Nähri who had two chances, both saved by Marr, shortly before Phantoms extended their lead through their top-scoring Brit, James Ferrara – Ales Padelek providing the assist at 32mins 37secs.
It was not long after that McPherson and Stepanek clashed – both assessed four minutes for roughing and there were further penalties to come five seconds from the break when Nähri drew a penalty on Tom Norton who took exception. Tom Carlon became involved with both Toms receiving two minutes for roughing and the Phantoms man an extra two minutes for slashing.
It looked to be game over when Phantoms added a third goal on the powerplay at 46mins 52secs while Griffin was sitting out a slashing call. Stepanek was the scorer with a slapshot that Skinns will have regretted failing to block.
A hooking penalty on James Ferrara followed by a tripping call on Robbie Ferrara ignited MK’s hopes with Carlon and Cowley going close.
Lightning didn’t score with the extra man but they did get on the scoresheet back at even strength through Griffin – a goal which sparked a Phantoms time out – followed by McPherson's strike on 57mins 45secs, only to see Susters then kill the game in the dying seconds.