Sheffield Steelers were beaten for a fifth time in the League by division pace-setters Cardiff Devils this evening.
Paul Thompson’s men had been desperate to pull back the 12-point gap which had opened up between the sides.
But tonight it grew to 14 although Sheffield still have five games in hand.
The narrow loss may end up a negative turning point in Steelers’ desire to retain the title.
Levi Nelson (assts John Armstrong and Jesse Schultz) had put the champions ahead.
But a Devils goal awarded to Patrick Asselin at 29:25 made it 1-1.
Joey Martin scored a disputed go-ahead goal although Jace Coyle made it 2-2 for Steelers at 52.40.
Then Josh Batch scored Devils’ third of the night with seven minutes remaining.
It was the defining moment of the match - and there was no way back for Sheffield.
Saturday 17th December
Belfast Giants 7 Nottingham Panthers 4
Braehead Clan 4 Coventry Blaze 7
Cardiff Devils 3 Sheffield Steelers 2
Edinburgh Capitals 4 Dundee Stars 3 (OT)
Nanchester Storm 4 Fife Flyers 3 (PS)
Sunday 18th December
Coventry Blaze v Belfast Giants 5.15pm
Dundee Stars v Edinburgh Capitals - 6.30pm
Fife Flyers v Braehead Clan - 6.30pm
Nottingham Panthers v Cardiff Devils - 4.00pm