Guildford Flames 4 Sheffield Steelers 2: Indiscipline costs as Steelers go down in Flames
Steelers fell to a 4-2 defeat at Guildford Flames and had star forward Marc-Olivier Vallerand thrown out of the game as Sheffield again paid a price for indiscipline.
The loss ended a three-match winning run and meant Steelers now have to share top of the league status with Belfast Giants, who have played three fewer games.
It also signalled the end of a 100 per cent Steeler league win ratio on the road.
Flames had finished the stronger team, 24 hours earlier, outshooting their hosts yet still yielding the first weekend game 5-3 at the House of Steel.
On Sunday night, Steelers, in their second game without suspended Michael Davies, were under the cosh from the fourth minute with Marek Troncinsky called for hooking.
They survived the pressure, but when Brendan Connolly went for slashing, Flames' left winger Jamie Crooks opened the scoring, assisted by T.J. Foster and Jordan Rowley.
Tomas Duba, who made 35 saves against the Surrey side on Saturday, conceded a second, Ian Watters converting from Calle Ackered and Kruise Reddick, at 10:01.
Steelers could not make the most of their first Power Play of the night, and then went 3-0 down.
The goal, from Cam Braes, helped by Brett Ferguson, showed the depth of Guildford's squad - three different scorers, five different assist providers.
The visitors had to regroup quickly and they managed that with a Davey Phillips' one-timer which was re-directed by centreman Eric Meland past Travis Fullerton, before the first interval.
A Nikolai Lemtyugov slashing minor interrupted Sheffield's hopes of continuing their offensive momentum, which had included an effort from James Bettauer who has scored a brace the night before.
And Guildford were 4-1 up after Vallerand's cross-checking/lack of discipline saw him expelled from the game.
On the resulting PP Kruise Reddick shot from distance to add his name to the scoresheet, at the midway point.
For the second time in the game, the home side were three ahead..and it was imperative Steelers found a way to goal in the match-penalty absence of Vallerand as well as Davies.
Anthony DeLuca was the man on the spot; he slotted home at the far post with 30 seconds left in the middle period.
Fullerton did better against Lucas Sandstrom and Sheffield's John Armstrong struck a post, as Steelers sought to close the gap further, in front of 1,784 fans at the Spectrum.
With Belfast winning 6-3 at Coventry Blaze, they are now level at the EIHL pinnacle, with Sheffield, on 18 points.