It was a night to forget for the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday as the Nottingham Panthers claimed all the points at the Fly DSA Arena.
There was a different atmosphere being created on the ice even before the game began as Nikolai Lemtyugov and Mathieu Tousignant exchanged a few words on centre ice.
The mood carried onto the main event as Tousignant and Johnson came together at the top of Tomas Duba’s crease after the goalie was forced into a smart save.
Sheffield had the first attempt on goal with the extra man as Nottingham’s #43 sat out for interference at 02:19.
A power play that had clicked in midweek struggled to get things going and thanks to good work on the penalty kill from the four Nottingham skaters.
Nottingham’s first turn with the man advantage saw the first goal of the game as Julian Talbot picked up the puck and fired a pinpoint shot past Duba and into the top corner (05:46).
First-period traffic continued to head in the Steelers direction and blocks from Ben O’Connor, Jonathan Phillips and Duba kept it a one-goal deficit.
For all the Steelers best efforts to get back into the game, Kevin Carr remained unbeaten through the first twenty minutes.
Period two began with a similar edge to the first puck drop and the Steelers took their chance to level things up thanks to Tanner Eberle, who continued his own fine form.
At 21:54 Eberle beat Carr on the power play and injected some much-needed energy onto the Steelers bench.
Two quick penalties against the Steelers saw Nottingham capitalise on a power play of their own as Brett Bulmer slammed a rebound past Duba giving the visitors their second lead of the game (24:54).
A re-energised Panthers bench continued to hem the Steelers into their own zone and had it not been for Tomas Duba, the scoreline could have looked a lot worse.
The pressure told with 28:40 on the clock, when Dylan Malmquist was left on his own in front of Duba to squeeze past his shot and increase the Panther’s lead.
Struggling to create a whole lot of offence, Sheffield found themselves stuck in a difficult position as they pressed for a response, gaps were appearing in the defence.
Things went from bad to worse at 34:18 when Brett Perlini added a fourth, converting his quick wrist-shot past Duba.
Heading into the final twenty minutes and the task was a substantial one that Aaron Fox’s men had to overcome.
There was no third-period fightback that has become synonymous with the Steelers when Jake Hansen hit the Panthers fifth goal at 41:38.
There were to be no more scoring despite the Steelers coming close when Eberle hit the bar but by that moment it was too little too late.
Nottingham didn’t take their foot off the gas and continued to push in search of more goals but thanks to Duba, it remained at five.
It was a solid, clinical performance for Tim Wallace’s men and the two points were exactly what they deserved on Saturday night.
Final score: Steelers 1-5 Panthers