Cardiff won the League on Steelers’ ice last season - but they now have to wait just a little bit longer to attach a fresh pair of ribbons to the Elite League trophy.
The champions went down 5-2 at Sheffield Arena, after coming up against some pretty special power play and penalty killing.
Sheffield, who on Saturday recorded their latest win at Nottingham Panthers to book their Play Off place, had a feistier than normal edge to them, with Robert Dowd taking an early roughing call, Zack Fitzgerald penalised for a check to the head and Jonathan Phillips and Cole Shudra throwing hits.
Cardiff - praised as the ‘best team in the league’ by Sheffield coach Paul Thompson - had most of the possession yet they conceded on the counter attack when Colton Fretter motored down the right.
He exposed a gap to Thomas Murdy’s near post - he was in net due to injury to Ben Bowns. It was Fretter’s fourth in four games.
Devils had previously lost just nine times in regulation and they were unfortunate when Joey Martin hit the post and Andrew Hotham had a shot ping off Ervins Mustukovs’ blocker.
Cardiff pressed after the break but again paid the price, Miika Franssila lashing in top shelf past the former GB U20 goalie, at 25:39.
They got back into it though when Tyson Strachan flashed a shot through traffic and across Mustukovs for 2-1 at 26:59.
But the same player was ejected for a check to the head and Sheffield then went on a Power Play goal bender - scoring two in 27 seconds from Fretter and Liam Kirk, who was being watched by Columbus Blue Jackets NHL scouts.
Sheffield, without Andreas Jamtin who has returned to Sweden to be with his wife who is due to give birth, couldn’t shake off the League leaders though and Joey Martin netted the Welsh team’s second (33:51.)
Sheffield spent much of the last session killing penalties - Fitzgerald subjected to the unusual punishment of being ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct while he sat in the penalty box.
Devils were composed going forward, but not as ruthless as we have witnessed before. Layne Ulmer was their biggest culprit - firing over from close range.
They pulled their goalie and conceded the fifth from Jonathan Phillips.
The win didn’t improved Steelers league position, they remain in fifth.