A defensive lapse with six seconds left in Wednesday’s Challenge Cup semi-final first leg has left Sheffield Steelers with a mountain to climb.
Doug Christiansen’s men were losing 4-3 to the Nottingham Panthers, but pushed forward in search of a late equaliser, only to be stung by a late sucker punch.
Petr Kalus converted a two-on-one breakaway, making it 5-3 and giving Panthers a psychological advantage ahead of Tuesday’s second leg.
The first period at the Motorpoint Arena was a muted affair, with both the home and travelling support depleted – perhaps due to weather warnings over high winds.
Nottingham took the lead on the powerplay at 12.21, Nate DiCasmirro in the box on a tripping penalty as David Clarke fired home.
But the lead lasted just over two minutes, a 5 on 3 powerplay and a slip close to the boards by a defenseman allowing Chad Langlais to skate in and shoot past Craig Kowalski.
The second period saw more action, Robert Lachowicz’s powerplay goal and Robert Farmer’s back door finish coming just 20 seconds apart.
But Steelers hit back with Drew Fata’s huge slapshot.
And 2.07 into the third period Gord Baldwin followed suit with a slapshot of his own to level the scores.
Kalus took centre stage however with two goals in the final period, the first scrappy, the second a picture of simplicity.