Sheffield Steelers 3 Cardiff Devils 7: Third time not a charm as Devils get the better of Steelers again
A 7-3 defeat at home - one which was influenced by some controversial decisions in a heated middle period - was a deflating experience for the home crowd, coming three days after battering champions Belfast Giants 5-0 on the same pad.
Steelers had won eight games out of their last nine at the Arena but this one was never going in their favour.
They must now re-focus before Sunday's visit to Nottingham Panthers.
Tonight, Sheffield had Marco Vallerand back from an upper body issue - yet their injury jinx continues with James Bettauer ruled out after being hurt in last Wednesday's win over Belfast.
Bettauer joins Aaron Johnson and Lewing on the sidelines.
And Vallerand doesn't look completely fit, to me.
The 30th game of the season was initially a tightly-contested, bad-tempered event with Matthew Myers and Brendan Connolly clashing twice.
But the second portion of the early session was dominated by the Welsh.
First Joey Haddad started a move and finished it, assisted by Josh Batch and Stephen Dixon.
Steelers were then lack-lustre on the powerplay and paid for it, Sam Duggan scoring unassisted after a freak puck bounce off the back boards.
Sheffield again couldn't score on a power play and again conceded, Myers exposing space at the back.
Top of the League Steelers, who had corrected a form dip to win their last three games, were suddenly in deep trouble after 11 torrid minutes.
And the Arena crowd felt their chances of coming back into the game were unfairly inhibited by refereeing decisions in the middle section of the game.
It started badly for the home side and got worse.
Cardiff's intensity led to a goal by Mike McNamee, in the 21st minute.
Matt Pope hit the Steelers post and Sheffield had a claim for a goal washed away.
But at least Marek Troncinsky pegged one back (1-4) and we waited to see if a miracle could happen.
But what we saw were some dubious tripping calls awarded against Troncinsky, Tomas Duba and Vallerand spliced by a power play goal from Haddad.
The fans were furious.
And their mood wasn't helped when Gleason Fournier triggered a move which brought the visitors their sixth.
The points were now certainly beyond Sheffield's reach.
Steelers players had to control their anger in the second interval and try to reduce the margin.
But heads dropped as passes went astray and touches on the puck were awkward and lacking in confidence.
Devisl fans were doing their best to unsettle Duba in Sheffield's goal, too.
And the Czech netminder was beaten by a brilliant solo goal from Duggan at 46:40. He picked his moment and shot the puck over Duba's glove and into the far side of the net.
Connolly got the goal his commitment earned with a near post effort past Ben Bowns at 52;24.
That was followed four minutes later by Tanner Eberle flashing a mid-air puck home. #
Both were on the power play.
And both were consolation goals.