Edinburgh Capitals’ play-off push came off the rails after a disappointing weekend culminated in a 5-3 home defeat by Nottingham Panthers at Murrayfield last night.
And Jordan Steel admits Capitals must come out of the traps firing if they are to stand a chance of making the end-of-season cut.
He said: “We’re all very disappointed at how things went, but we still have 100 per cent belief that we can make the play-offs. Every game we have is like a cup final for us now, that’s the way we have to look at it.
“Our coach Richard Hartmann told us that the way we played in the third period tonight was the only good period of hockey we played both against Nottingham and in Fife on Saturday and we need to play like that for 60 minutes a game, not 20.”
Missing tough defender Kyle Flemington (concussion), speedy forward Greg Collins, who required stitches after a cut to the groin in Saturday’s 5-1 loss at Fife Flyers, and Sean Beattie who was also injured during the Kirkcaldy clash, Edinburgh’s lack of depth was highlighted in a match they never looked liked winning.
Only a spirited display in the final period from the home team diluted from what was in truth a one-sided encounter.
Despite Nottingham playing their third game in as many nights, they started brightly outshooting the hosts 13-6 in the opening period. However, Edinburgh did manufacture some quality early chances and only a great double save from Panthers’ goalie Craig Kowalski from Dennis Rix and then Riley Emmerson prevented Edinburgh taking the lead.
Although out-played, Edinburgh will have been disappointed to concede the opening goal in the 19th minute, a poor turnover at centre ice allowed Guillaume Doucet to break forward and his pass was finished by the on-rushing Max Parent who was man-of-the-match for Panthers.
Edinburgh needed a big second period to get back in the game, but were far too passive allowing the visitors to skate and giving them too much room in front of goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky. He could do nothing to stop Panthers’ GB internationalists Robert Lachowicz and Robert Farmer scoring goals less than 60 seconds apart in the 31st minute, goals that put the game beyond the lacklustre home side.
Rix produced a fine top-corner finish, after a pass from the boards by Jade Portwood, to reduce the deficit but Panthers regained their three-goal cushion when Bruce Graham scored a power-play goal in the final seconds of the period.
A soft-hooking penalty called against Capitals blue-liner Marcel Petran proved costly.
Caps showed much more fight in the game’s final 20 minutes, player-coach Richard Hartmann scoring at 41.03. Callum Boyd and Hartmann again went close before another power-play score from Farmer put the game to bed.
Edinburgh goal machine Rene Jarolin scored his 28th of the season with seven minutes remaining to again pull the home side to within two, but despite late pressure and power-play opportunities that was as good as it got for the home side.
“We prepare ourselves well, but we seem to start too many games slowly and take too long to get into it,” added Steel.
“We need to find a way to play well when its 0-0, rather than wait until we’re three goals down. It’s hard to play with intensity for 60 minutes when you’re as short as we are. We missed Collins, he’s been a really big player for us all season.”