Edinburgh Capitals were no match for Dundee Stars on Tayside last night, going down 5-1 after a poor first period saw them trail 4-1 after 20 minutes.
Surviving an early barrage of shots on Capitals goalie Carsen Chubak, Edinburgh took the lead against the run of play, through a 26th goal of the season for Ryan Hayes, which sees the American sniper remain the Elite League’s leading scorer, despite having failed to hit the net in his previous ten games.
The early Hayes marker looked to have settled the visitors down, David Rutherford went close to scoring a second Edinburgh goal but two Stars strikes less than 30 seconds apart in the 12th minute from Justin Faryna, and a first Dundee goal for young Scottish defenceman Craig Moore, gave Dundee a lead from which they would never look back.
With Hayes in the penalty box for hooking, Dundee increased their lead on the power-play, a slap-shot from Stars top-scorer Bobby Chaumont eluded the otherwise excellent Chubak after the Caps goalie came up short diving behind his net to retrieve the puck, which was cycled round to Chaumont on the blue-line and he blasted in his 24th goal of the season.
A combination of a fine save from Stars net-minder Vastimil Lakosil and then the post on the rebound denied Paul Zanette and then Hayes on a break-away chance, before some great individual skill from former Capitals forward Curtis Leinweber, stick-handling his way round Edinburgh player-coach Riley Emmerson and Chubak to give the home side a 4-1 lead at the end of the first period.
Edinburgh, who struggled on the penalty kill in Saturday’s 6-5 home loss to Coventry Blaze, conceding three goals from as many power-play opportunities, did well to shut down Stars’ power-play unit, killing eight minutes of penalties in a goalless second period. A Rutherford effort that wrung the post and a pile driver from Emmerson, well saved by Lakosil, was the closest the visitors came to clawing their way back into a game the home side dominated, out-shooting the visitors 48-14 on the night.
Edinburgh struggled to get any sort of foot-hold, conceding another 16 minutes of penalties in a scrappy third period, which included a ten-minute misconduct penalty for Hayes after he lost his cool with match referee Rab Cowan in the 45th minute. Stars deservedly made it 5-1 on the resulting power-play, defenceman Jason Gray with a smart finish after an attempted clearance from Lukacevic failed to clear the zone.
In what was deemed a pivotal weekend for Edinburgh’s fast disappearing play-offs hopes, they did not do enough. Despite gaining what looked an unlikely point on Saturday night after trailing the visiting Coventry Blaze 3-0 less than three minutes in, and 5 -1 just one minute into the second period. Goals from Emmerson, Rutherford, Zanette, Lukacevic and a screamer with less than 30 seconds remaining from Trevor Gerling forced over-time only for the come back to fall short when Mike Quesnele scored an extra-time winner for the visitors for whom Neil Trimm with a hat-trick, Drew Fisher and Brett Robson also scored.
The weekend’s results see Edinburgh remain in ninth place, four points out of a top eight-finish and a play-off spot. Closest challengers Blaze will be tough to catch, especially considering they hold four games in hand.