Panthers v Steelers
2 - 5
The Nottingham Panthers took on the Sheffield Steelers in the second ever edition of Saturday Night Showdown, presented by Lucas, for the final time in regular season action in 2018/19 on Saturday night.
Michael Garnett got the start in goal for the Panthers opposite Jackson Whistle for the Steelers.
Alex Guptill had the first clear cut chance of the game when a bad Steelers’ line change saw him break in alone on Whistle only to be denied by a flashy glove save.
The visitors took the lead when Evan Mcgrath (5.21) took advantage of a broken play and beat Garnett on the wrap-a-round.
It didn’t long for the Panthers to answer back. Just after Tom Zanoski’s interference penalty (6.25) expired Mark Hurtubise tied things up, his shot taking a deflection as it eluded the Steelers’ netminder.
The Panthers went back on the powerplay shortly afterwards when the Steelers were caught with too-many-men on the ice (9.30). Despite plenty of offensive zone time they couldn’t break through Whistle, the GB international frustrating the EIHL’s leading goalscorer Alex Guptill on more than one occasion, and the Steelers returned to full strength.
With the teams skating five-on-five Garnett found himself the busier of the two netminders, making a great save with his right pad on a shot from the slot before gloving down O’Connor’s slapshot from the blue line.
Both netminders continued their strong play for the remainder of the period and the teams went into the first intermission tied at one a piece.
The second period exploded into life as it approached the halfway mark. Gui Lepine (27.12) was sent to the box for holding and it took the Steelers just 16 seconds to take advantage, Jordan Owens putting away the loose change at the top of Michael Garnett’s crease.
Evan McGrath and Robert Farmer were called for penalties just 19 seconds apart and again Sheffield struck quickly, just eight seconds into the spell of four-on-four Jordan Owens scored his second of the night (28.22). Sniping the puck past Garnett from the right wing.
Nottingham killed a penalty to Robert Farmer (34.31) but couldn’t close the deficit and the second period ended with the Steelers leading by three goals to one.
Jackson Whistle was called for tripping early in the third period (44.46) but, with Evan McGrath sat in the box serving the minor penalty for his netminder, the Panthers couldn’t find a way back into the game on the man advantage and the Steelers returned to full strength.
Michael Garnett had to be alert as the game headed into it’s final ten minutes as he made a strong blocker save on a slapshot from the point.
Sheffield extended their lead when Tom Zanoski (54.33) beat Michael Garnett in close to send the away section inside the Motorpoint Arena into raptures.
Chris Stewart cut the deficit in half when he beat Jackson Whistle (57.36) but, despite a late powerplay and Michael Garnett pulled in favour of the extra attacker, there was to be no heroic comeback from the Panthers as Sheffield scored into the empty net to make it 2-5 and they skated out with the two Elite League points in tow.