Edinburgh Capitals, who will not have a better chance to win a match this season, put in another poor third period to lose 4-2 against Coventry Blaze at Murrayfield last night.
Face-off was delayed for an hour following Coventry’s late arrival as their coach battled through the adverse weather conditions, and in their only game of the weekend a fresh Edinburgh failed to take advantage of an initially sluggish Blaze, who on Saturday had been taken to overtime at home to Braehead Clan.
Edinburgh got off to the perfect start, scoring twice in the first five minutes. Juris Upitis produced a composed finish after nice build-up play involving Sergei Banashkov and Igor Valeyev on three minutes, and Nikita Kolesnikovs doubled the tally with a powerful wrist shot from just inside the blue line which caught out Blaze net-minder Kevin Nastiuk.
Blaze understandably took some time to get their legs going, and Pavel Vorobyev missed a great chance to score Edinburgh’s third in the ninth minute, fluffing his shot from the slot after being found by captain Mike Cazzola.
Coventry, thanks in part to penalties called against Tyler Plews and Igor Valeyev, dominated the second half of the opening period, out-shooting Edinburgh 16 to eight after 20 minutes, and only some great stops from Caps netminder Pavel Shegalo kept Coventry at bay. The Russian was unlucky to concede 16 seconds before the interval, after his pad save from a Marc-Olivier Vallerand shot fell perfectly for Ben Lake to score.
Caps’ penalty troubles continued into the second period, and the home side did well to kill an Upitis hooking minor, Valeyev almost scoring short-handed, but was denied by Nastiuk.
Caps were left to rue an Upitis miss when through on goal in the 29th minute, firing wide, only for Coventry captain Jordan Pietrus to tie the game at 2-2 a minute later with a quick snap shot from just inside the blue line that got through Shegalo’s pads.
Edinburgh, to the annoyance of another poor crowd inside Murrayfield, were not getting the rub of the green when it came to match referee Steve Brown. This came to a head as the second period wound down as Brown appeared to change his mind after calling a-delay-of-game penalty against the Blaze, only to send Cazzola to the sin-bin for hooking 30 seconds later. There was no doubt about the hook, but the play should have been called dead before the infraction with Edinburgh on the power-play rather than the visitors.
Coventry took the game to Edinburgh in the third period, Edinburgh’s play becoming increasing frantic as they struggled to get the puck out of their zone, and a double save from Shegalo thwarted the smooth skating Vallerand after he cut through the Caps defence in the 47th minute.
Finally the Blaze pressure told, Pietrus with a deadly accurate wrist shot that found the top-left hand corner after Edinburgh’s Jay King, at full stretch, fell just short of gathering the puck behind Shegalo’s goal. Coventry scored a fine team goal just 30 seconds later with some tape-to-tape passing bamboozling Caps and Vallerand applying the finish.
Edinburgh already looked a beaten team, and offered nothing in the closing stages as their hugely disappointing seasons continued.