Panthers v Lightning
The Nottingham Panthers
4 - 1
The Nottingham Panthers welcomed the Milton Keynes Lightning to the Motorpoint Arena on Wednesday night for the second half of a league back-to-back.
Michael Garnett got the start in goal for the Panthers, who were without Jon Rheault, Kevin Henderson and Tommy Hughes, opposite Patrick Killeen for the Lightning.
Nottingham pressed after an early penalty for too-many-men (2.36) was killed and Luke Pither saw his effort trickle through the crease before the MK netminder saved and held Guptill's shot from between the circles. Ollie Betteridge then almost capitalised on a rebound only to be denied by a larcenous save by Killeen who stacked his pads at the last possible moment to keep the puck out.
Robert Farmer and Alex Bolduc both went close on a Panthers' powerplay (8.12) but once again found Killeen in sparkling form.
Michael Garnett was called into action when the Lightning went on the man advantage (10.18), the Panthers' netminder keeping the Lightning at bay with a great pad save before spreading out to cover the puck.
With the period winding down Luke Pither found a loose puck and rifled it high into Killeen's net (18.19) to give the home side the lead heading into the second period.
Jaynen Rissling fired a one-timer just wide after a great feed from Luke Pither just over a minute into the second period as the Panthers looked to double their advantage.
A bad bounce on a five-on-three powerplay opportunity for the Panthers saw the Lightning break in two-on-one but Michael Garnett was on hand to make a great glove save to deny Milton Keynes.
The Lightning couldn't convert on a five-on-three powerplay opportunity of their own but the momentum they built allowed Marek Mazanec to cash in at the back door, the Czech defenceman tying the game at one (32.23).
Just over a minute later Alex Guptill scored a goal of the season contender to restore the Panthers' lead. Tim Billingsley flipped the puck out of the defensive zone, it was hit by high Lightning stick but Alex Guptll was the next player to touch the puck so play continued and he beat Patrick Killeen over the glove on the backhand with a spin'o'rama move (33.52).
With 13 seconds remaining in the period Robert Lachowicz scored his first of the season to cushion the lead for the home side. Alex Guptill won a face-off in the offensive zone and Lachowicz shot the puck high over the glove of Killeen with a wicked wrister to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes of play.
Milton Keynes drew a penalty early in the third period as they searched for a way back into the game but although they beat Michael Garnett they couldn’t beat the post, player-coach Tim Wallace’s shot bouncing to safety.
Another Lightning powerplay (48.49) bore no fruit for the away side, Michael Garnett making an outstanding double pad save with his left leg as the Panthers returned to full strength.
The Panthers couldn’t ice the game on a late powerplay (57.07) when Michael Fine was sent to the box for high-sticks.
Milton Keynes pulled their netminder inside the last minute of the game but after a turnover in the Panthers’ zone Robert Lachowicz scored his second of the night into the empty net to seal the two points for The Nottingham Panthers.