Special teams the difference in Panthers loss
Special teams were the difference as the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze fell to a narrow 2-3 defeat to the Nottingham Panthers at the Skydome Arena.
With Danick Paquette suspended and Ben Lake injured, Latvian Edgars Bebris returned to the Coventry line-up. The Panthers choosing to start Danish netminder Partick Galbraith, giving Canadian Michael Garnett a night off.
It was the away side who got on the board first at 3.34, defenceman Yann Sauve firing home on the powerplay, their first of three from three attempts on the night.
As was the story of the night, Luke Ferrara came agonisingly close to grabbing a first period equaliser, the puck not settling for the Blaze forward with the net wide open.
Panthers began the second period with the man advantage, having a goal waved off following the net being dislodged before Brett Perlini registered his first of two (20.46).
Blaze responded through player/Assistant Coach Brett Robinson at 25.16, the Canadian finishing from an excellent feed by Brit David Clements for 1-2.
Perlini again made it 1-3 with the Panthers third powerplay goal before Blaze’s Assistant Captain Ryan Dingle cut the deficit back to one at 32.15, the assists going to Garrett Ladd and Ross Venus.
Nottingham’s Jeff Brown and Coventry’s Venus both then hit the goal pipes as the two teams went back and forth at each other.
The final twenty minutes saw Blaze pile on the pressure in search of an equaliser. Putting 15 shots on Galbraith in the Panthers goal, compared to 7 by their opponents (45-34 over the full game), try as they might, Blaze couldn’t find another way past the excellent Dane.
Failing to convert on any of their four powerplay opportunities or with Kevin Nastiuk pulled for the extra skater to end the game, Blaze were left frustrated as the buzzer sounded for a final score of 2-3.