A SENSATIONAL hat-trick from forward Pavel Vorobyev and a Matt Tipoff goal only five seconds from full-time, helped Edinburgh Capitals battle back from 5-1 down against Sheffield Steelers to grab an Elite League point at Murrayfield on Saturday night.
Steelers, who were gifted three goals by a misfiring Edinburgh in a poor first period, grabbed the win after penalty shots, Jesse Schultz and John Armstrong scoring to take the extra point back to Yorkshire.
The visitors were on the board with less than a minute on the clock, their aggressive fore-check forcing an errant pass from young Caps defenceman Jay King and allowing Levi Nelson to score.
Just three minutes later a telegraphed cross-ice pass from Jaroslav Hertl was easily intercepted by Nelson who broke the length of the ice and set up Steelers debutant Yared Hagos.
Hertl, who played injured throughout Friday night’s 4–1 loss to Cardiff Devils, took himself to the locker room after the incident and didn’t play the remainder of the game.
A giveaway from Capitals forward Ian Schultz, deputising for Hertl at the back, allowed John Armstrong to make it 3-0 in the 19th minute, and Sheffield added a fourth just 30 seconds later. Thankfully, this time all the credit can go to the visitors as Mathieu Roy expertly deflected a Ben O’Connor slap-pass beyond Capitals goalie Travis Fullerton.
As a woeful first period for the Murrayfield men entered it’s final seconds, Vorobyev gave fans a glimpse of things to come, stripping Sheffield of the puck and stick-handling his way behind the defence to fire past netminder Ervins Mustukovs to give Edinburgh a lifeline.
“It was a really bad period from us,” admitted Vorobyev. “During the break we spoke a lot to each other in the locker room, about staying focused and sharp on the ice.
“Every game we’re making individual mistakes, we’re playing against good teams and especially teams like Sheffield who have lots of skilled players and love to play attacking hockey, they’ll take their chances.
“We didn’t help our goalie. Every game he plays very well for us but we’re not doing enough in front of the net.”
Edinburgh were much better for the remainder of the game, cutting out mistakes and making Sheffield work for their chances in a second period that saw Markus Nilsson for the visitors, and Capitals live-wire Garrett Milan, trade goals, giving Steelers a 5-2 advantage after 40 minutes.
Two minutes into the third period Vorobyev, after nice build up play from Karel Hromas and Jacob Johnston, scored Edinburgh’s third and the former Chicago Blackhawks star completed his hat-trick less than five minutes later, firing a backhand finish across Mustukovs into the top-right-hand corner.
It was an excellent third period by Edinburgh, and when Tipoff fired home the rebound after an initial Johnston effort with just five seconds remaining it was no less than they deserved.
Tipoff almost won it for the home side, hitting the post in overtime, however a clearly rattled Sheffield regained their composure in time for the shoot-out to take the extra point.
Vorobyev, who is 34, concluded: “After a great comeback like that it’s always disappointing to lose a point at home, but we can take confidence form the way we played in the third period.
“I’m happy that I scored three goals and helped the team. It can be very tough. I’m not so young now, and sometimes we’re cutting right down to seven forwards.
“It’s tough but I’m really enjoying my hockey here. We have a good team and Edinburgh is a great place to play.
“I’ll keep preparing the right way for every game, eating right and taking plenty of rest. Hat-tricks are great, I’ve had that before in my career but I’m working hard, trying to make myself better, because I’m making mistakes too and I’ll need to work on that.”