Edinburgh Capitals wilted in the third period, going down 5-1 to Fife Flyers in a flat Forth derby at Murrayfield last night, coach Dmitri Khristich blasting his players “for making the same old mistakes”, as Edinburgh handed the game to Fife in the latter stages.
Caps trailed 2-1 after two periods, had the majority of the play but could not find a way past Flyers goalie Andy Iles who was named man of the match.
Khristich said: “The guys were right in the game, we had a lot of time in their zone for the first two periods, took a lot of shots, we just needed a little bit more of that and we could have been looking at a different result.”
Caps had the better of the chances of the first period with Sergei Banashkov twice stinging the glove hand of Iles in the opening stages, whilst the visitors took nine minutes to force Edinburgh stopper Pavel Shegalo into a save at the other end.
Against the run of play, Flyers, breaking from their own zone after a Capitals turnover, bulldozed through the Caps back-line with a more direct approach and, after getting the break of the puck, Carlo Finucci flicked a shot beyond Shegalo to open the scoring.
Flyers almost doubled their lead in the final minute of the period, again on a fast break-from their own zone, but Shegalo produced an excellent post-to-post save to deny Danick Gauthier.
In a flat game, the poorest atmosphere for a Forth derby at Murrayfield in some years, Flyers blue-liner Ian Young forced a good glove save out of Shegalo early in the second period, before Edinburgh equalised on the power-play, following a rammy in front of Iles net, the final touch from Edinburgh captain Michael D’Orazio at 25 minutes and nine seconds.
The goal was the trigger for Edinburgh Capitals Supporters’ Club annual Teddy Toss. Stuffed toys were hurled on to the ice and gathered up by players and cheerleaders. They will all be donated to Children First’s, Mission Christmas appeal.
Frustratingly as the atmosphere finally lifted, any momentum was killed just a minute later as Flyers scored on another break from their own zone. Caps were not helped by defenceman Nikita Kolesnikovs – who scored both Edinburgh’s goals in Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Fife in Kirkcaldy – being caught out of position as he looked for his third goal of the weekend. Charlie Mosey scored to put Flyers 2-1 to the good.
Caps missed a great chance to draw level as Fife’s Liam Heelis and Evan Bloodoff fell foul of match referee Pavel Halas in the 34th minute. But they could not make the two-man power-play advantage count.
Bloodoff was sinned binned for a late hit into the boards on D’Orazio who looked in some discomfort and did not return for the third period.
Flyers scored a key early goal in the third period – Finucci with a nice fake-shot that brought Shegalo to his knees, before skating round the prone goalie and scoring into an empty net.
The deficit was only two goals but it clearly knocked the stuffing out of the home side who badly missed D’Orazio at the back, and two power play-markers, Funucci’s hat-trick goal and a Heelis effort put the visitors on easy street.
It was too much for a frustrated Shegalo who pulled himself from the game with eight minutes to play, replaced by 18-year-old back-up Jordan McLaughlin.
Khristich continued: “I said to the boys, we all know what we’re doing wrong, you know what the guy sitting next to you is doing wrong, but still we come out every night and make the same old mistakes. Losing pucks, bringing pucks back into our zone, not covering players in our defensive zone, we’re making the same mistakes over and over again.
“We need to simplify the game in order not to lose the puck in the neutral zone. We’ve got to dump the puck in their end, chase it and play in their zone, and play smart, avoiding too many rushes back. To play this way takes a lot of hard work, and we don’t look like we’re ready to do that for the whole game right now.”