Sheffield Steelers veteran Rod Sarich dragged his side back into contention on Saturday afternoon, against Nottingham Panthers laying the ground for the tightest of victories.
Sarich had a superb all-round game, in attack and defence.
And the victory spring-boarded Sheffield into second place above Nottingham.
The visitors to the virtually-sold out Sheffield Arena had been good value for a lead they had gained at 7;38.
Marek Pink had just done well to block David Ling but in the next attack, Logan MacMillan forced the puck past the Czech goalie.
Panthers had enjoyed more possession in the neutral zone and seemed an inch or so ahead of Paul Thompson's men in individual battles.
But Sarich, who has seen it, done it and bought the ice hockey derby tee-shirt, scored the equaliser at 15;57.
The right defenceman found himself room for a brief skate and shot - beating the Panthers netminder Dan Green.
The packed Arena was awash with orange flags and a swell of relief - but there was lots to put right for coach Paul Thompson at the first interval.
Steelers engineered clearer chances in the middle session, one of the best falling to Guillaume Desbiens on 26;10.
But Rob Dowd sent a bullet shot past Green for 2-1 on the Power play at 36:08 - putting Sheffield in charge for the first time.
They held on - grimly at times - to the lead.
The huge fan base was happy, particularly, that the Steeler goals had come from veterans who have given years of blood, sweat and tears for the club.
Coach Thompson said it had been "a tense game of chess" and not much offence had been generated because of the defensive strategies of both sides.
But he said goalie Pinc had been outstanding and that the two points had been a boost before going into the NIC.
Saturday 26th December
Cardiff Devils 7 Coventry Blaze 2
Dundee Stars 2 Braehead Clan 4
Fife Flyers 3 Edinburgh Capitals 0
Sheffield Steelers 2 Nottingham Panthers 1
Sunday 27th December
Braehead Clan v Belfast Giants – 6.00pm
Coventry Blaze v Cardiff Devils – 5.15pm
Edinburgh Capitals v Dundee Stars – 6.00pm
Manchester Storm v Fife Flyers – 5.00pm
Nottingham Panthers v Sheffield Steelers – 4.00pm
Tuesday 29th December
Belfast Giants v Braehead Clan – 7.00pm
Coventry Blaze v Nottingham Panthers – 7.30pm
Wednesday 30th December
Belfast Giants v Dundee Stars – 7.00pm
Cardiff Devils v Manchester Storm – 7.30pm
Thursday 31st December
Braehead Clan v Dundee Stars – 2.00pm
Edinburgh Capitals v Fife Flyers – 4.00pm
Nottingham Panthers v Coventry Blaze – 3.00pm
Friday 1st January
Manchester Storm v Sheffield Steelers – 3.00pm