Panthers v Flyers
2 - 6
The Nottingham Panthers took on the Fife Flyers in an Elite League clash on Saturday night as former NHLer made his debut for the black and gold side.
Michael Garnett got the start in goal for the Panthers, who scratched Patrick Munson, Tim Billingsley and Robert Lachowicz (illness), opposite Shane Owen for the Flyers.
Chris Stewart welcomed himself to the Panthers faithful as he delivered a crunching hit in the corner on his very first shift, bringing the Motorpoint Arena to it's feet. Great work from Jon Rheault then almost set up Tommy Hughes but the defenceman's effort was gloved down by Shane Owen.
After skating off the bus legs Fife started to grow into the game, hitting the pipes before taking the lead through Basaraba (11.44) with a wicked wrist shot. A little over a minute later the visitors doubled their lead when James Isaacs found Paul Crowder (13.59) at the backdoor for the simplest of tap-ins.
Nottingham saw a route back into the game when Evan Bloodoff was sent to the box for tripping (18,40) but the Kirkaldy side struck again, Carlo Finucci stealing the puck and skating down the right wing before beating Garnett (19.11) with a laser of a shot as the first 20 minutes ended with Fife three goals ahead.
Shane Owen had to be on top of his game as the second period got underway as Steve Lee and Alex Bolduc went close to dragging the Panthers back into the contest. Chris Stewart then started to make a nuisance of himself to the Fife defenders as he created opportunites for himself and his team mates before Owen saved and held onto Josh Tetlow's shot.
Fife scored their fourth of the night when Gui Lepine was sent to the penalty box (29.46) and Chase Schaber pulled a move on his defender before roofing a back hand effort high into Michael Garnett's goal. A little over three minutes later Fife took a five goal lead, Evan Bloodoff (33.50) finishing off a two-on-one break-in after a turnover on the Panthers' blue line.
The fifth Flyers' goal saw Sam Gospel take over from Michael Garnett between the pipes for the Panthers.
Shane Owen made the save of the game when he flashed the leather to deny Kovacs with a sparkling glove save after the Panthers' forward found himself all alone in front of the Fife goal.
Nottingham did get a goal back before the period ended when Alex Bolduc crashed the net and tucked home a rebound (34.57), the goal was confirmed as good after a quick review and the period ended with the visitors ahead by five goals to one.
The Panthers killed off a roughing penalty given to Gui Lepine at the end of the second period (39.35), the Panthers' captain taking exception to a hit on Robert Farmer, but quickly found themselves short-handed again when Josh Tetlow received a five and game penalty for roughing (42.21). It quickly turned into a five-on-three opportunity for the flyers when Luke Pither was called for tripping (42.33) and they promptly took advantage, Schaber scoring his second of the night (43.01) after some slick passing around the Panthers' goal.
More penalties to the Panthers followed as Alex Bolduc (45.38) and Steve Lee (46.14) were sent to the box. Fife could do nothing with the extended five-on-three opportunity,due to some terrific netminding by Sam Gospel.
When the Panthers returned to full strength they got their second of the night. Jon Rheault finding Kevin Henderson all alone in front (50.52) were the Panthers' alternate captain one-timed the puck home to make it 2-6.
Fife killed a late powerplay opportunity for the Panthers and Sam Gospel stood tall on a breakaway but there was to be no miracle comeback for the home side and the Flyers skated out of the Motorpoint Arena with the two points.