Sheffield Steeler’s hopes of league title all but over after Guildford Flames defeat
Sheffield cling on the top of the league by their finger nails - but Cardiff Devils are now just one point behind with three games in hand.
The Yorkshire-Glamorgan rivals meet each other twice - and anything can happen in the other remaining games.
But Steelers have constantly been implying all their remaining games were "must-wins" - and to drop two points to sixth-placed Flames is hugely damaging.
Fans had expected Flames to have been high on confidence after returning to Surrey the day after beating Belfast Giants in overtime in Northern Ireland.
But they had the early jolt of a Steelers goal to contend with: Anthony DeLuca putting the visitors ahead.
Flames bit back 49 seconds later, though, an unassisted goal from Jamie Crooks, who was to be their hero of the night.
Sheffield rallied, with John Armstrong powering an effort into goalie Travis Fullerton's upper body.
But both sides had two men called for minor penalties in a 13 minute spell and it remained at deadlock at the first break.
Nikolay Lemtyugov put Sheffield ahead again, when Marek Troncinsky manufactured a chance the belted high into the net at 24:31.
It was his second spectacular offering of the weekend, having scored against Fife Flyers.
Tanner Eberle was cheated by the Guildford pipework from making it three.
But the middle of the game was treated to an interchange of goals.
First Marco Vallerand potted a rebound, (3-1) his first point of the weekend, at 29:05, but with Lemtyugov sat out for cross-checking, Canadian winger Crooks doubled his personal tally.
That goal was followed by a heart-stopping Sheffield collapse: Braylon Shmyr put Flames level, and Kruise Reddick made it 4-3 to the home side and Aaron Fox's men had conceded THREE in as many minutes.
When Crooks scored his hat-trick at 45:12 the game was slipping away.
Steelers, ofcourse, mounted a late rally, Ben O'Connor's one-timer reducing the deficit to 4-5 at 55:44.
Fox called a time out to save the EIHL regular season with 91 seconds left, pulling Duba in favour of the extra skater.
But Flames held out, leaving Sheffield now in need of a miracle to win the season's main trophy.
Sheffield, beaten three times at Guildford this season, will carry on fighting - starting at Cardiff on Friday.