Edinburgh Capitals finally broke their 13-game losing streak, and picked up their first home win of the season, with a frantic 7-6 victory over last season’s treble winners, Nottingham Panthers, at Murrayfield last night. Canadian forward Jade Portwood was the hero, scoring a dramatic overtime penalty-shot winner awarded after he was hauled down when clean through.
Portwood, who on scoring the winner, slid down the ice on his knees in celebration, before being mobbed by delighted teammates, said: “I came in from out wide, faked a shot and put it blocker side. I don’t have many tricks in my bag, but every Thursday in practice we usually have a shoot-out competition and the loser has to pay a fine, so if it looks like I’m in that situation that’s the move I usually try. It’s the only one I’ve got.
“I didn’t mean to go down on my knees like that. I know the other team weren’t very happy about it, but we needed the win and it was good we got a chance to celebrate together on the ice like that.”
According to Capitals player-coach Richard Hartmann, Edinburgh, who at one stage led 4-0 and were up 5-2 with 15 minutes to go, should have won the game in normal time, blaming defensive errors for the Panthers’ fightback.
Hartmann said: “I’m pleased with the effort, everybody gave their all and they deserve credit for that.
“We’ll take what is a very important two points but some of our play was awful. We controlled the whole game, but because we are lacking in confidence we needed to battle right to the end. In the first half, we scored some nice goals and we were playing some pretty good stuff, but then we conceded an unlucky goal and we lost all our confidence. We made a lot of mistakes and turned the puck over.
“Our game is about patience and taking care of things defensively. The better you defend the more scoring chances you will create, but sometimes our players don’t understand that. I told the boys they needed to remain patient and more chances will come, but we didn’t do that in the second half and we let them back into the game.”
Caps captain Martin Cingel admitted that Edinburgh have had a habit of blowing leads this season, but believes last night’s win, in which they were never behind, could be enough to turn the club’s fortunes around.
A relieved Cingel said: “A win’s a win. After such a long losing streak the boys needed this. I know we put ourselves in a bad situation in the third period and gave our fans a heart attack, but we kept going and we won the game. Hopefully this is the turning point for us this season. We’ve got ourselves in front at some point in each of our last six games and lost them all, so obviously holding on to leads and getting over the line has become a mental problem for us, but we smashed that tonight and getting the two points is a fantastic feeling.”
Edinburgh, who led 1-0 after the first period through a well-taken goal by Tomas Horna, raced to a four-goal lead a little more than 30 minutes in, a double by Marcis Zembergs, his first goals since returning to the club two weeks ago, and a Curtis Leinweber marker doing the damage. Panthers pulled to within two through goals by Tom Morton and Joe Jenson, but crucially for the home side the mounting pressure was lifted when they scored the last in a feast of goals in the second period, Peter Holecko finishing off a slick power play passing move at 38.54.
Panthers dominated the early stages of the third period, scoring three goals in a ten-minute spell to tie the game at five-apiece, two by young Englishman Jonathan Boxill and a Matt Ryan wrap-around at 50.17. Leinweber briefly nosed the hosts in front again at 54.13 but Panthers Team-GB defenceman Jonathan Weaver set up the overtime finish, scoring his team’s sixth 30 seconds later.