Steelers had leaked goals in a Nottingham rink they normally do well in.
In the first period they condeded two poor goals - one of them so sloppy they left goalie Ervins Mustukovs completely unprotected.
And when they had fought back to 2-2, they collapsed again, in this Play off semi final at the NIC.
But an astonishing late finish ensured a Final appearance tomorrow against Cardiff Devils.
Just when you think they are down and out they surprise you.Sheffield, with forwards Tim Wallace and Matt Marquardt restored to the line-up at the expense of Andreas Jamtin and Miika Franssila went behind alarmingly quickly and easily.The second line formation of Jonas Westerling Eric Neiley and Colton Fretter were out-hustled and Nottingham went ahead in 47 seconds through Alexander Mokshantsev.Sheffield have had the whip-hand over Nottingham in their building this season, winning four out of five previousvisits to the Lace City.But Panthers were finishing their checks, were direct, and Evan Mosey, in particular, fancied his chances of adding another.It was Sheffield that were the most unfortunate not to turn the scoreboard, though, with Fretter powering an effort into the side of the post.Davey Phillips then dropped a clanger deep in his own zone, gifted a chance to Brett Perlini, at 5;24 but Mustukovs held on to the puck.Steelers upped the ante, Marquardt backhanded into Patrick Galbraith's glove side and a neat inside pass from John Armstrong set up Mathieu Roy, who blasted just wide.Panthers, who finished the regular season locked on the same points as Steelers in the Erhardt Conference, socred a second though when Luke Pither burst through the centre of Steelers' unprotected rearguard and slotted home.Panthers were jamming up the slot when under pressure and broke quickly, but they were undone at 15;24 when Roy scored from Armstrong, a goal given after video review.
The home side claimed Galbraith had scooped the puck clear - but from the media vantage point, it looked well over the line.
There was nothing in the game as Jeff Brown sent in a powerful shot on target and Jonas Westerling whistled the puck over at the other end. in the second period.Dan Spang backchecked John Armstong as a breakaway looked on for Steelers at 24;33.But the game was all square when Scott Aarsen's shot was rebounded to Jonathan Phillips for 2-2 at 24;53. Joonas Ronnberg then took a holding minor and Nottingham went ahead again.Ben O'Connor had whisked the puck away from danger but then on the same shift couldn't clear his zone and Panthers set up shop.
Tim Billingsley fired in allowing Yann Sauve to do the rest at 26:50Sheffield survived another penalty kill ( Zack Fitzgerald Interference 30:34) but after that Panthers swept in from the right, the puck was cannoned to the left where Jeff Brown made it 4-2 at 33:45.There was no shortage of Steeler energy but Panthers rarely let anybody into the danger areas - something which they had achieved at the other end.
Pither tested out Mustukovs' glove at the start of the third period as Panthers sought to put the game beyond doubt.But Mokshantsev went down like a sack of proverbial Russian spuds after an off the play incident, to slow the game down. He returned to the play quickly.Mark Matheson and Ben O'Connor tried to ignite some offence from the left flank for Sheffield, but Panthers continued to be a threat, parking the bus one minute, countering the next.
At 48;37 Colton Fretter motored around Steelers right flank waiting for the right pass, finding O'Connor who lashed it high into the net for 3-4. Suddenly Steelers fans were having the same impact on the team as they had the previous year - willing them on to get back level.
Raphael Bussieres missed an open goal for the home side with seven minutes left as Steelers over-committed themselves going forward.
At 58.21 the offensive gambling paid with off with a 4-4 equaliser from Levi Nelson - another goal which survived the review process and sent the game into overtime.
Valdix almost won the game with an attempted tip.
Then Brown and Robert Farmer wasted a two-on-one rush in Steelers zone and Dowd balooned the puck overf Galbraith's cage...what a start to the extra session!
It ended in amazing fashion, Armstrong scoring directly in front of the Steelers section.
His goal swept away the weeks of frustration caused by injury - and delivered a Final date for his club tomorrow.