Starting with a loss: New coach sees injury-hit team outgunned. Nottingham Panthers 5-2 Sheffield Steelers
Steelers' new coach Tom Barrasso had hoped to set off in his new career with a win at Nottingham Panthers tonight - but his team was shorn of attacking talent and didn't get off to a good start.
Centremen Evan McGrath and Chris Lawrence were missing from the line-up, as well as longer-term injured Robert Dowd and Jordan Owens.
Steelers had competed evenly from the first face off, yet found themselves trailing in the first period when Stefan Della Rovere took a slashing penalty at 13:34.
Within 20 seconds Kevin Henderson shot the puck past Jackson Whistle, unassisted, for 1-0.
Sheffield responded well, with Eberle and Buzzeo both having chances, but they had a touch of luck when Panthers' Luke Pither smashed the puck against the crossbar.
Panthers weren't to be denied much longer.
At 23:19 Canadian d-man Tommy Hughes joined the attack to fire home from the right circle.
Goals were clearly continuing the elude Sheffield, so Barrasso switched d-man Mark Matheson to a forward role centring the third line.
Sheffield pressed to the point that Panthers' coach Rich Chernomaz called a time-out to try and ensure there would be no breaches at the back.
Steelers had power plays on either side of the second interval, a time where Tanner Eberle was given a 10-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike behaviour.
And they made the second one pay, when Josh McFadden scored at 41:53.
But they immediately went back to being two behind - Alex Guptill, making it 3-1 just 16 seconds later.
Barrasso reacted by throwing Davey Phillips forward to join Matheson from the blue line.
It showed how critically short of forwards, he was.
Panthers had no such issues and Tyler Biggs ensured the points in the 48th minute with a one-timer.
Barrasso's men weren't finished though at 54.53 they reduced the deficit to two goals, with Della Rovere on the scoresheet.
But Guptill rang up number five for Notts at 59:22
Afterwards Barrasso said he could not have asked for more from his players but he needed more players back healthy.
He complimented them for sticking to the systems and said they would continue to build the team from Monday, after Sunday's day off.