Final score: Nottingham Panthers 0-5 Sheffield Steelers - what next for Notts?
Sheffield Steelers continued their festive domination of Nottingham Panthers tonight with a pulverising victory which could have consequences at the host club.
Boxing Day's 4-0 home win at Sheffield Arena was followed by a barrage of goals for the visitors in the return fixture at the NIC.
It was a massive embarrassment for the hosts - their recent eight losses won't do much for job security there.
Steelers had not conceded in their previous two hours of play - and that was to continue into thefirst period at Nottingham.Having said that they dominated offensively and could reasonably have expected a goal from the 13 shots they had on Michael Garnett in that opening stanza, compared to a measly three from Panthers.Mathieu Roy, Matt Marquardt, Ben O'Connor's efforts on goal and Jonathan Phillips's breakaway could allhave unlocked the door, but Panthers hung on.
But that was about to change. Their concentration lasted 89 seconds into the middle period, when Tim Wallace beat Garnett low blockerside only his fourth goal in 40 games for the club, assisted by Roy.Sheffield have had to wait for this type of contribution from the 101-game NHL'er - but it couldn't havecome at a more opportune moment.Colton Fretter must have felt he'd added to it, but his shot bounced off the goalie's upper body andclear.These were uncomfortable moments for the home fans, possibly fearing their team was in for anotherpasting like Boxing Day at Sheffield Arena.And John Armstrong upset them even more when he turned and fired home for 2-0 at 29;32.It was all Steelers with Levi Nelson unfortunate not to convert a break on goal and Armstrong hitting the bar.
Then Steelers' Power Play clicked and Nelson - the man Panthers love to hate - made it 3-0.
Boos serenaded Panthers as they trooped off at the second interval.
As in the previous game Panthers tried to restore some dignity and Mustukovs' stick had to waft away aTim Billingsley shot. Then Robert Farmer and Yann Sauve put some pressure on the Sheffield cage.
Dan Spang hit the post too, but it was business as usual as Robert Dowd found the top corner for 4-0 at 45:56.
Liam Kirk was robbed of a cracking goal - the referee called Jonas Westerling for an infringement as the youngster took his shot.
The Sheffield juggernaut was not to be denied though with Ben O'Connor netting the fifth on the PP at 54;49.
It was Mustukovs' third straight shut out..and should lead Steelers into a very bright New Year.
Coach Paul Thompson said the club was "getting back to where we want to be, making a charge for the league. All four lines did well."