Sheffield Steelers 4 Nottingham Panthers 3 - Tanner Eberle wins it for Steelers in tense overtime clash
Steelers continued their progress towards the Challenge Cup quarter-finals with a tense 4-3 overtime victory against Nottingham Panthers at Sheffield Arena.
Tanner Eberle ensured maximum points with two goals on his return to action, his last in sudden death overtime.
This was the match where something had to give: both sides had played two and won two in the Challenge Cup group stage. One had to lose for the first time.
Steelers got off to a horrible start, Martin Latal's intended back pass being gobbled up by Panthers, Christophe Boivin scoring from Jeremy Welsh and Kevin Domingue.
Then Oliver Betteridge's tip from Taylor Doherty's centre blue line shot flashed past goaltender Barry Brust for 0-2, all in the first five minutes.
Nottingham were able to make more interceptions and spend more time in Sheffield's own zone than was healthy.
Brust hadn't lost his composure though and saved twice from Massimo Carozza, as well as Jordan Kelsall, Domingue and Robert Bailllaregeon.
And Sheffield started the fightback when Eberle, back after a lower body injury, waited for just the right moment to shoot the puck past Kevin Carr.
The home side were now more confident and dangerous, with Marco Vallerand and Robert Dowd working hard to level.
And they made it 2-2 at 28;13 on their first power pay. With Steven Lee called for roughing, Dowd tried his luck, short-side, and beat Carr.
Brust was then the hero - his save triggered a counter-attack from which Marco Vallerand gave Steelers the lead.
But Panthers, rejuvenated after killing a full two minutes five-on-three penalty, made it 3-3, Boivin back-handing, almost in slow motion, from tight angle. with Brust exposed.
Steelers fans were willing the puck into the net in a mad scramble of a third period.
But Nottingham were stubborn, killing another five-in-three disadvantage.
Almost predictably, the game went to overtime, with Eberle crashing home the winner at 62:55.
Sheffield hit the road on Sunday morning for the match at Dundee Stars, in the league.