Steelers v Panthers
5 - 4
The Nottingham Panthers
THE NOTTINGHAM PANTHERS returned to domestic action on Saturday night, after their Continental Cup exploits a week earlier, as they went back on the road to take arch-rivals Sheffield.
Kevin Carr got the start in goal for the Panthers opposite Tomas Duba for the Steelers.
The night got off to the worst possible start for the Panthers when John Armstrong (0.53), who had stationed himself in front of Carr, got a deflection on a shot from the blue line and found the back of the net.
Two powerplays inside the first ten minutes ultimately came to nothing for the Panthers despite the best efforts of Jake Hansen and Brett Bulmer, who both tested Duba as each powerplay came to a close.
Sheffield doubled their advantage when Aaron Brocklehurst's (12.50) shot through traffic found it's way by Carr but the Panthers responded instantly, Jake Hansen's shot from the right wing proved too to handle for Duba and Mark Matheson (13.09) was on hand to sweep the rebound into the back of the Steelers' goal.
Both teams traded powerplay opportunities to close out the period but both penalty kill units, and netminders, stood firm and the hosts went into the first intermission leading by one goal.
Sheffield dominated the opening stages of the second period but when Nikolai Lemtyugov (25.28) was sent to the box for hooking the Panthers tied the game. Duba was unable to hold onto Matheson's shot from the wing and Brett Perlini (25.43) was in the right place at the right time to to backhand the puck over the line.
William Quist (26.10) was called for slashing and the home side sensed an immediate response but it was the Panthers' special teams unit that came out on top to put the visitors into the lead. With just three seconds remaining on the penalty kill Brett Bulmer (28.07) cooly slid the puck into Duba's goal after picking the puck up in the neutral zone and powering to the net front.
A little over 30 seconds later the Panthers gave themselves a two-goal lead when Brett Perlini (28.43) fired high into Duba's goal from the left-wing face-off circle.
Sheffield pulled a goal back before the period concluded when Marc-Oliver Vallerand (35.25) managed to get a puck to loop up over Carr but the Panthers saw out the rest of the period and went into the second intermission holding a one-goal lead.
A tense start to the third period saw neither team able to create any momentum until the 47th minute when Eric Melan (47.49) managed to slide the puck past a scrambling Carr to tie the game at four.
An interference penalty against the Panthers' netminder (48.55) gave the Steelers hope of re-taking the lead but a stubborn Panthers' penalty kill unit, and a miraculous diving glove save by Carr, kept the Steelers at bay and the visitors returned to full strength.
Nottingham couldn't capitalise on a late period powerplay of their own when Tanner Eberle (54.02) was called for hooking and the game went to overtime.
Brendan Connolly scored the game winner for the Steelers with just 21 seconds remaining in overtime and the Panthers had to settle for a solitary point from their trip to Yorkshire.