Edinburgh Capitals lost their second tight one-goal-game of the weekend to Nottingham Panthers, going down 4-3 at Murrayfield tonight.
Coupled with Saturday’s 3-2 defeat in the first of the home double header with the English outfit, and with only two games of the season remaining for bottom of the table Edinburgh, it’s now eight games at Murrayfield without a win, and another case of ‘close but no cigar’ for Michal Dobron’s men, which has happened all too often for the liking of Capitals’ bench-coach Jock Hay.
A bemused Hay said: “We have nothing to play for and the guys could easily go through the motions, but they came out and played really well for the two games. However, it’s been a reflection of our whole season, playing hard enough, playing well enough, but giving away bad goals which costs you games.
“We’ve been in a lot of games this season, especially against the top teams, where if you take away the silly goals the results would have been different.
“Individual errors have cost us all year; it’s not always the same person making them, but the errors have always been the same – poor turn-overs, not picking up guys, or just standing beside your guy in the crease. You go near anybody else’s crease you get mauled, you come into ours and we’ll just stand beside you. Even if the player has not got a chance of getting the puck, we should be all over them if they stand there. It’s been those types of goals that have cost us all year. You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.
“Nottingham are a good team, who roll four lines and come at you the whole time. With the exception of the first period on Saturday, and minus the obvious errors, I thought we competed really well with them over the two games.”
Nottingham enjoyed the better of the opening chances in the first period, and took the lead in the 12th minute when defenceman Jeff Dimmen was allowed all the room in the world to rifle a slap-shop beyond Edinburgh goalie Travis Fullerton, after the entire Edinburgh team were left hugging the boards following good build-up play from GB internationalist Robert Lachowicz and Jeff Brown.
Caps pulled level four minutes later through Mason Wilgosh, after determined play from Jaroslav Hertl led to the puck breaking to the Canadian in the slot.
Panthers goalie Mika Wiikman then foiled Garrett Milan in the closing seconds of the period, after initially spilling a long range effort from Rihards Grigors.
After the restart, Edinburgh looked to have survived an intense period of Panthers pressure, defending manfully to win back the puck, only for experienced forward Pavel Vorobyev to fire his break-out pass right in front of goal, on to the stick of Panthers’ Stephen Schultz, who made no mistake with the finish.
Vorobyev soon made up for his error, latching onto a Panthers defensive break-down to skate in alone on Wiikman and coolly slotting home a back hand finish to tie the game at two a-piece in the 29th minute.
Edinburgh, with the help of two early power-play opportunities, looked the more likely to take the lead as the third period wound down, but crucially it was man-of-the-match Alex Nikiforuk who finished a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Panthers fast-break with 11 minutes remaining, their first real chance of the period.
Edinburgh soon gifted Panthers a fourth as they were punished for some casual, over confident play in their own zone; so frustrating to watch, and so easily avoidable, Erik Lindhagen credited with the goal.
Edinburgh pushed to get back in the game, and did so with two and a half minutes remaining, Michal D’Orazio with a fine one-timer on the power-play from a perfect Vorobyev pass.
However, despite a frantic finish, and a Capitals effort that came off the bar in the final seconds, the visitors held on for the win.