Cardiff Devils 6-3 Sheffield Steelers - more title points for defending champs
Sheffield goalie Ervins Mustukovs played his 200th game for Steelers - but it won't be one to tell his kids about.
He was pulled at 0-4 down at Cardiff Devils, the catalyst of a fight-back, of sorts.
Steelers twice closed the gap to two goals, but just didn’t have enough, going down 6-3.
They had beaten Cardiff at home three days earlier - but had lost all three previous trips to Wales this season.
In their last two journeys there they scored just once per game - so the side was looking for some offensive bite this evening.
That plan was undermined in 22 seconds, when Gleason Fournier stuck the puck past Mustukovs after Joey Martin, and Joey Haddad passed around the visitors.
Not long after Justin Faryna and Steelers Eric Neiley dropped the gloves in a brutal, but even clash.
With Andreas Jamtin (paternity) and Miika Franssila out (illness) Sheffield still managed to roll four lines until the disruption of two penalties.
They killed the first but then conceded on the second, Joey Haddad netting (assts Sean Bentivoglio, Andrew Hotham 17:14.)
Having conceded in the first 22 seconds, they then allowed in another...23 seconds into the middle period.
Fournier and Haddad turned providers for Martin to make it 3-0.
At 24:57 it was Hotham’s turn to get on the sheet, triggering a Time Out and the substitution of Brad Day instead of Mustukovs in goal.
The change spurred some action with Mathieu Roy returning fire on the Power Play for 1-4.
Ben Bowns, back after an absence from Devils’ net, had to block shots from Roy and Ben O’Connor as Sheffield
upped the tempo. But Bowns couldn’t stop O’Connor’s shot to further reduce the arrears with another PP strike at 35;32.
But the session ended with another Devils goal, from Patrick Asselin.
Steelers mirrored the early period trend of goalscoring when Levi Nelson made it 4-2 at 42;42.
But a Zack Fitzgerald boarding penalty gave Fournier a chance to bury his second of the night.
Sheffield had to contend with a 5-on-3 penalty kill, nullifying any chance of a dramatic comeback.