Sheffield Steelers endured a horror show home performance against Belfast Giants tonight.
They were taken to the cleaners by a super-hot Northern Irish side.
At the end of the night they were five points behind Giants in the race for the title, albeit having a couple of games in hand.
A crowd of 6,198 watched the home side’s no-show.
Sheffield conceded an early avalanche of goals after Belfast top scorer Chris Higgins got hold of a loose puck at 5:38 and placed it over Ervins Mustukovs’ body, an unmarked Michael Quesnele added at 8:27 and then two came from David Rutherford on the power play at 12:51 and 17:24.
It couldn’t have gone any worse for Steelers in the opening session. But were they that superior?
Or was it a fluke?
Second placed Belfast answered that when Rutherford assisted on a Brandon Benedict goal at 30:59 to ring up a hugely embarrassing, and unexpected, 0-5 score.
They had really put Steelers in their place.
The newly assembled Steelers’ top line eventually clicked in at 35;06 when Colton Fretter tipped in a shot after a play involving linemates Mathieu Roy and Andreas Valdix.
Fretter is the man who has kept Steelers on point in the last few games.
But when a penalty shot came his way at 50:27 he was some way off executing and the score remained at 1-5.
That summed up much of the night.
Luke Ferrara popped in a late consolation at 59:24.
But Sheffield now have a massive task on their hands to achieve a third-straight Elite League title.
And league leading Cardiff underlined that, with a crushing 5-0 win over Nottingham Panthers.
After the game coach Paul Thompson said the defeat should “hurt” his players, saying the team was not used to losing.
In their last 11 games, they have won eight...but then again they have lost their last two home matches.
A home win tonight, will effectively strengthen Cardiff’s hand...they were hoping for a split weekend in South Yorkshire.
Saturday 28th January
Braehead Clan 5 Fife Flyers 2
Cardiff Devils 5 Nottingham Panthers 0
Coventry Blaze 4 Edinburgh Capitals 1
Manchester Storm 4 Dundee Stars 2
Sheffield Steelers 2 Belfast Giants 5
Sunday 29th January
Dundee Stars v Braehead Clan – 6.30pm
Edinburgh Capitals v Manchester Storm – 6.00pm
Fife Flyers v Cardiff Devils – 6.30pm
Nottingham Panthers v Coventry Blaze – 4.00pm
Sheffield Steelers v Belfast Giants – 5.00pm