Edinburgh Capitals blew a great chance to finally gain some momentum in the play-off race, going down 5-1 to Dundee Stars in an Elite League basement battle at Murrayfield tonight.
Instead it was the visitors who made ground. Dundee have moved above Manchester Storm in the Elite League into the eighth and final play-off place, leaving Edinburgh six points adrift of the post-season, with only six games remaining.
Despite the score-line Edinburgh dominated large parts of the game and Capitals’ captain Jacob Johnston blamed momentary defensive lapses and a stagnant power-play as Dundee were handed the points in the final meeting of the two teams this season.
Edinburgh were given eight power-play opportunities by match referee Pavel Halas, including 90 seconds with a two-man advantage, but only had a late Taylor MacDougall consolation goal to show for it.
Johnston said: “That was the most frustrating thing for me, your special teams can win or lose you games, and tonight they lost us this one. We have to be better there, those were great opportunities to get back in the game. We did not perform on our power-play and that’s been the case throughout the year to be honest. Tonight was a great example of us getting a lot of power-plays but not making anything of it.”
Edinburgh, who had done so well to beat Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy on Saturday, came out the box all guns blazing, dominating the opening period but lacking a killer touch in front of the net, whilst Dundee scored three, despite spending most of the period on the back foot.
Dundee’s man-of-the-match Vinny Scarsella showed great vision from behind the net to pick out the on-rushing Mikael Lidhammer, who fired a one-timer into the top-corner to score on the power-play in the 12th minute. Capitals goalie Travis Fullerton could do nothing about the opener, but the Canadian, so often the saviour for Edinburgh this season, would have been disappointed to concede goals two and three just 50 seconds apart, both scored from bad angles by Joey Sides and Scarsella when little looked on.
At the first-period break Caps looked shell-shocked skating off the ice, and Johnston said: “We gave them a power-play goal that was preventable, we left a guy wide open in the slot. They scored a couple of others, but for the most part I thought we were playing really well, the guys heads were up, and we thought if we continued to play that way our luck would change, but it wasn’t our night.”
If Edinburgh could say they were unlucky in the opening period, the same could not be said following the second. The passing that has been crisp became sloppy, and when Lidhammer scored a well worked fourth for Dundee in the 29th minute, again on the power-play, it was well deserved.
Edinburgh spent the rest of the period on the power-play themselves as Dundee ran into penalty trouble, but unlike the Taysiders, who on the night scored two from just three opportunities, Caps looked laboured relying on often wayward shots from the blue-line.
And the fact Dundee goalie Joe Fallon was seeing the puck like a beach-ball didn’t make it any easier for the home side.
“I think he (Fallon) played well, I wouldn’t take that away from him,” added Johnston. “From our point of view we didn’t test him enough, we didn’t get traffic in front of him, or get enough shots on net.”
To add insult to injury, in the dying seconds of the period, Stars broke up ice short-handed, Scarsella again the architect, setting up Kevin Hart to bullet a shot beyond Fullerton for 5-0.
Johnston said: “We dominated the game for large chunks but we had momentary lapses defensively and there were times we failed to pick up our assignments, they are a pretty opportunistic team and every time we gave them a chance they capitalised.”
The third period, in what had built up to be a pivotal game in Edinburgh’s season, was a complete damp squib. Fallon was unlucky to lose his shut-out when MacDougall tipped a Johnston effort beyond him at 56 minutes and 44 seconds.