Sheffield Steelers lost their ‘match of the season’ tonight.
They had trailed 2-1 at the first break but evened matters on 38 minutes.
But late third period goals left Panthers seven points clear of Ryan Finnerty’s troops.
Opponents Nottingham Panthers had been defeated at home to second-place Belfast Giants, last night.
So a win over Panthers at the House of Steel tonight would see Sheffield three points behind the front-runners.
Panthers took the early initiative, scoring after just 58 seconds after a defensive mix up, Jordan Fox banging home from in between the circles.
Tylor Michel levelled on a Power Play at 7;50, but 47 seconds later Bruce Graham made it 2-1 for Notts.
Steelers ended the second period level, after Shawn Limpright had equalised from a Steve Goertzen right wing cross.
And they could have taken the lead with Ashley Tait hitting the post.
Two late goals from Dave Clarke and David Ling handed both points to Panthers.
Don’t miss a full weekend analysis in Monday’s Star.