Edinburgh Capitals 5 Fife Flyers 6 (SO)
Fife Flyers finally snapped a seven-game losing streak at Murrayfield Ice Rink on Sunday - but this was a game they had to win twice.
The points should have been bagged in regulation time as Flyers streaked into a 0-4 lead with the type of hard-working and clinical performance that reminded everyone what this team is capable of.
However, just as they did against Braehead the previous evening, Flyers capitulated in a single period, losing four goals in the last 20 minutes - and two in 20 seconds near the end - to gift Edinburgh Capitals a point.
As impressive as Caps comeback was, digging deep into the team spirit that a winning streak can bring, it was as much to do with Flyers losing their nerve, although Ned Lukacevic managed to keep his cool in the shoot-out to earn his side the vital win.
Todd Dutiaume, Flyers head coach, put his team’s third period collapse down to nerves.
“I’ll attribute that to a team so desperate to cross the finish line and get two points,” he said.
“Sometimes the hardest thing to do is snap that losing streak and get the first win.
“When it comes down to penalty shots anything can happen and how many times do you see that the best team doesn’t win?
“But I think the best team won tonight - no offence against the Caps because they came back from a big deficit, but for the most part we carried a lot of the play and I think the guys deserved it.
“They had a bit of a collapse at the end - and we’ve been susceptible to that of late - but in the first 50 minutes we saw a glimpse of what this team can do.
“Technically we could have rolled through that game and shut it down - we didn’t - but hopefully this sparks something in the team.
“We’ve still got a long way to go. We didn’t win the Stanley Cup there, but hopefully we’ve made a positve stride towards becoming a better hockey club.”
Given the contrasting form of both clubs, the opening period was something of a shock to the system.
Caps were unable to settle as a fired-up Flyers swarmed all over the ice, winning countless turnovers to set up attack after attack, with Bobby Chaumont striking twice either side of Matt Reber’s effort for a 0-3 lead.
When Lukacevic added a fourth following a move of breathtaking speed seven minutes into P2, it seemed Flyers were on course not only for a much-needed win, but a confidence boosting performance.
Caps had rarely looked like scoring but Flyers first wobble arrived towards the end of P2 as Forsyth, Fulton and Milam all took minor penalties in the space of two minutes.
With a lengthy five-on-three powerplay Caps at last enjoyed some pressure in the Fife zone and eventually opened their account on 37.11 through Riley Emmerson just as Flyers got back to four skaters.
Rene Jarolin made it 2-4 just 52 seconds into the second stanza - and suddenly the momentum had turned. Scott Fleming managed to find the net on 47.22 against the run of play to restore Fife’s three goal advantage and ease the tension - or so we thought.
When Marcel Petran’s powerplay effort hit the net for Caps third on 51.29 you could sense the desperation creeping back into the Fife side, and when Jade Portwood made it 4-5 with three minutes left, it was panic stations.
On the next shift, Caps surged forward and with bodies spread everywhere, Petran’s effort eventually broke through for 5-5.
Flyers scrambled their way to the buzzer - had they lost the match in the minute and a half that remained it would have been a crushing, potentially season-damaging blow.
But they held on, regained some degree of composure in overtime, then Lukacevic’s provided the magic touch in the penalty shoot-out.
The relief was overwhelming, but whether it’s a turning point for the team remains to be seen.
Period scores: 0-3, 1-1, 4-1, 0-0
Caps scoring: Petran (2+1) Emmerson (1+2) Jarolin, Portwood (1+1) Bohunicky (0+2) Grimaldi, Rix (0+1).
Flyers scoring: Chaumont (2+1) Fleming (1+2) Lukacevic, Reber (1+1) Suoraniemi, Fulton (0+1).
SOGs: Edinburgh (Hiadlovsky) 25; Fife (Regan) 28.