Panthers v Devils
The Nottingham Panthers
3 - 2
The Nottingham Panthers welcomed the defending Elite League champions to the Motorpoint Arena on Sunday night as the Cardiff Devils made the trip up north.
Michael Garnett got the start in goal for the Panthers opposite Ben Bowns for the Devils.
Alex Guptill returned to the Panthers line-up in place of Jacob Doty with Jon Rheault and Joseph Hazeldine also missing out.
Panthers’ captain Gui Lepine set the tone early, landing a big hit in the corner to bring a raucous Sunday crowd to their feet and Nottingham had a chance on the man advantage when Myers was sent to the box for hooking (2.32). The Devils, however, stood firm and the score remained tied two minutes later when Myers returned to the ice.
There was no let up in the physical play as Tommy Hughes and Mark Richardson collided along the boards, the Panthers’ man getting the better of the coming together.
Sublime play by Mark Hurtubise almost saw Alex Bolduc fire the Panthers ahead, but the angle proved to be too tight and his shot ended up in the meshing above the goal.
However, on his next opportunity the newest Nottingham Panther made no mistake. Tyler Biggs moved the puck east to west and Bolduc rifled the puck past Bowns (14.36) to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Just over three minutes later the Devils tied the game on their first powerplay of the game. With Hurtubise in the box for tripping (17.45) Stephen Dixon tipped home Joey Haddad’s shot (18.29) from the point to tie the game at one heading into the second period.
It didn’t take long for the Panthers to regain their lead when the second frame got underway. Tyler Biggs forced a turnover, settled a rolling puck and unleash a rocket of a wrist shot over the blocker of Bowns (21.31) to make it 2-1.
A too many men call against the Panthers (26.39) gave the Devils a route back into the game but the penalty killers and Michael Garnett kept them at bay.
Nottingham got a powerplay of their own when Mark Louis was sent to the box for cross-checking (36.08) but found Bowns in imperious form and the score remained 2-1 after 40 minutes of play.
Cardiff started the third period with a bang, Josh Batch was left all alone at the back door and when the puck found its way to him he made no mistake in putting the puck into a half empty cage (43.20) to tie the game at two.
It took just 15 seconds for the Panthers to answer back, Justin Kovacs beating Bowns in close (43.35) to restore the home side’s one goal lead.
The Panthers had two chances to cushion their lead with two powerplay opportunities (48.44 and 51.30) but once again couldn’t breach the Devils’ penalty kill.
When Michael Garnett was given two minutes for delaying the game (54.56) the Panthers had two crucial minutes on the penalty kill, and a mixture of last gasp defence and heroics from Michael Garnett denied the Devils and kept the Panthers one goal lead in tact.
Cardiff pulled Bowns inside the last two minutes but couldn’t find a way past the Panthers’ defence or Michael Garnett and The Nottingham Panthers skated out of the Motorpoint Arena with the two Elite League points on offer.