Edinburgh Capitals produced a superb third period to beat title-chasing Braehead Clan at Murrayfield last night and keep alive their slim play-off hopes.
After losing 5-1 in Braehead on Saturday, Caps had to win to remain within touching distance of fellow play-off contenders Hull Stingrays and Fife Flyers with three games of the season remaining.
They had forward Daniel Naslund to thank for extending their season with a late double that scuppered Clan who remain a point behind Sheffield Steelers at the top of the Elite league.
Naslund said: “It was a real team effort tonight, probably one of the best games we’ve played all year, we really stuck together. It was a hard fought game, we had to battle for every inch out there but we were able to man up and get the job done.
“I’ve been a little snake bitten in front of goal so it was really nice to get that off my back.”
As is so often with back-to-back games this match began as a chippy affair with unsettled scores from the previous night. Match referee Rab Cowan handed out 20 minutes of penalties in the opening period alone.
Edinburgh lost their discipline at times giving away 12 power-play opportunities to a physical Clan side, none more so than goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky who was furious by the presence of 6ft 6in Clan import Jeff Smith continually screening him whilst Clan had the man advantage.
It was only a matter of time before Hiadlovsky lashed out, picking up his third slashing call of the weekend in the 12th minute, all on Smith, giving Clan a two man advantage for 45 seconds. However the Slovakian quickly regained his cool to keep the visitors at bay as they exerted some serious pressure.
Edinburgh had to wait until early in the second period before creating a genuine scoring opportunity and it fell to leading marksman Rene Jarolin. Some smart passing behind the net between Richard Hartmann and Naslund presented Jarolin with a chance just ten feet out, but Clan goalie Kyle Jones was alert enough to stack the pads, block the effort and deny the sniper his 30th season goal.
Missing forwards Sean Beattie and Callum Boyd Edinburgh were restricted to playing two lines for the vast majority of the game, although Jay King and Jordan Steel were used sparingly in the second period, on a line with team enforcer Riley Emmerson. However, Emmerson had to drop back to defence to cover for Kyle Flemington who left the game in the 32nd minute with a leg injury after blocking a shot. Braehead had the lion’s share of chances in the opening 40 minutes, however Edinburgh came out with fire in their bellies in the third and turned the tables on the opposition. Greg Collins went close and Naslund rung the post before he scored twice in a six-minute spell to give Edinburgh a 2-0 lead.
Aggressive fore-checking from Hartmann caused a turnover in the Braehead zone and a lovely string of passes between Hartmann, Jarolin and Naslund resulted in the big Swede spinning and firing the puck into an empty net after Jones had been pulled out of position in the 46th minute.
Jarolin and Hartmann combined again to spring Naslund free, the big Swede managed to hold off the attentions of a Clan defender before ripping a shot from the top of the circle into the top right hand corner at 51 minutes, 20 seconds.
Edinburgh did well to kill-off penalties to Marcel Petran and Emmerson, only to concede an even-strength goal seconds later, Scott Pitt scoring after a quick pass from Neil Trimm.