Edinburgh Capitals 3, Fife Flyers 5: Improved performance from Murrayfield men

Nikita Kolesnikovs tied the game 2-2 with a rocket of a shot from just inside the blue line. Picture: Ian Coyle
Nikita Kolesnikovs tied the game 2-2 with a rocket of a shot from just inside the blue line. Picture: Ian Coyle
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Edinburgh Capitals came up short in their final game of 2017, but it was a real barn-stormer as they lost 5-3 to Fife Flyers in tonight’s Forth derby at Murrayfield.

Flyers sealed the win with an empty-net goal from Evan Bloodoff, 20 seconds from time.

Edinburgh, still wearing their Santa Claus-themed Christmas strips, created plenty chances of their own, but gifted the visitors a 2-0 first period lead, two sloppy errors costing them dear.

Sergei Banashkov tested Flyers’ net-minder Andy Iles in the opening seconds, before a Michael D’Orazio pass was intercepted just over the red line, and Peter LeBlanc rifled a shot from distance that flew past the glove hand of Capitals’ goalie Jordan McLaughlin, giving the visitors a third-minute lead.

Caps came roaring back, and inspired net-minding from Iles thwarted Edinburgh’s line centred by Mike Cazzola. They forced four stops inside 30 seconds from the Canadian, proving why he has been a big reason Fife have been far and away the best of the four Scottish teams in this season’s Elite League.

Capitals failed to take advantage of a power-play opportunity after Ian Young was penalised for a late hit on Jay King in the seventh minute. Flyers had not long returned to full strength when some good passing finally forced Iles out of position, but with plenty of net to shoot at, Dylan Anderson fired wide. Seconds later the frustrated winger, whose performances have been a rare highlight of a to-date very poor Edinburgh team, found himself in the penalty box for elbowing, but the home-side stood form to kill the penalty.

Caps were still creating the better chances, and on 15 minutes Iles stopped a Denis Trakhanov one-timer, and a minute later he got a pad to a Pavel Vorobyev effort from the slot after he had been set up by Anderson.

Edinburgh’s poor habit of conceding in the final minute of a period continued when a crazy drop pass when through on goal from Trakhanov was gobbled up by the otherwise beaten defenceman, resulting in a fast-break the other way, Flyers scoring through Liam Heelis at 19 minutes and 22 seconds.

The first period flew by, however, a cracking game was very nearly spoiled by match referee Chris Wells who called numerous soft infractions on both teams in what became a needlessly penalty filled encounter.

It was Edinburgh who made the most of the man advantage in the second period, scoring three straight power-play goals in a deadly three-and-a-half minute spell. Vorobyev poked the puck home from the doorstep after Iles failed to hold a Nikita Kolesnikovs shot in the 27th minute. Kolesnikovs then tied the game with a rocket of a shot from just inside the blue line and Igor Valeyev completed the turnaround bang on the half hour, showing quick reflexes to guide the puck home off another rebound from a Kolesnikovs shot.

Flyers pushed for the remainder of the second period, and with Edinburgh now in penalty trouble of their own, Fife equalised on the power-play at 27 minutes and 14 seconds through Shayne Stockton.

It took just ten seconds of the third period for Banashkov to be sent to the sin bin for holding, Caps killed the penalty and new signing Patrik Moisio nearly marked his home debut with a short-handed goal but was denied by a smart kick-save from Iles.

Flyers controlled the majority of the play in the final 20 minutes with Caps restricted to break-out chances, the best of which fell to Vorobyev who was denied by a diving save from Iles who was out of position after a mix-up behind his goal.

With 15 minutes to play Edinburgh did well to kill a penalty called for too many men on the ice, a constant problem with the Murrayfield players and something that will need to be worked on by the new coaching team of player-coach Michael D’Orazio and his assistant Jock Hay.

Flyers took the lead with seven minutes to play, an innocuous effort struck McLaughlin and looped over his head and was fired over the line for his second goal of the game by Heelis.

Flyers survived a delay-of-game penalty with just under four minutes remaining, Caps enjoying their best spell of the period before, with McLaughlin pulled for a sixth skater, Bloodoff scored into the empty net at 59 minutes and 42 seconds.