MK Lightning 2-4 Cardiff Devils (10th Nov)
By Paul Brookman
Cardiff’s class was again too much for Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning when they went down 4-2 at Planet Ice on Saturday.
In truth had it not been for the heroics of deserved man of the match, Patrick Killeen, it could have been a cricket score. The Canadian goalie stopped all but four of the 56 shots fired on him and had Devils not eased up in the third period that total could have been far more.
Leading by what proved to the final score at the second break Devils slipped down a gear in the final session – probably with the following day’s anticipated tough battle with Belfast Giants in mind – while retaining control of the outcome. Meanwhile Lightning tried in vain to find a way through, managing just 23 shots in total – less than Devils’ second period tally of 30.
It was again a lesson in the gulf in quality – MK with precious few of the calibre to match that of the reigning league and play-off champions. Killeen was again one of those who might hold down a place in the Devils squad as he ended the weekend with a total of 108 shots against him, including those during the previous night’s 4-3 loss at Manchester Storm.
Cardiff’s victory snapped a three game losing streak for them while it stretched Lightning’s winless run to seven, keeping them bottom of the table.
There was an early blow for the hosts when Devils struck after just 1min 23secs – Stephen Dixon supplying the impressive Charles Linglet to beat Killeen. Cardiff quickly sought to double their advantage, breaking away for a shot which went wide.
There was no respite either after James Griffin was penalised for interference on 2mins 55secs – Devils piled on the pressure on the powerplay while, back at full strength, Killeen made a great stop from Joey Martin.
Lightning equalised on 7mins 37secs in strange circumstances – the goal judge’s light did not go on as Harry Ferguson was provider for a shot by Cole Shudra which rebounded out as quickly as it went in, leading to the suspicion that it had hit the metalwork. After much deliberation referees Matt Thompson and Tom Pering awarded the goal.
The hosts then took the lead for the only time when Andreas Valdix made the pass to Tim Wallace who found himself with space in which to shoot through traffic at 14mins 15secs. It gave Lightning a 2-1 lead going into the first break, but few fans expected that score to remain in the home team’s favour.
And so it proved as MK were quickly short-handed when Eric Neiley was penalised for delaying the game, having hit the puck over the Plexiglas. Killeen was immediately scrambling to save in a crowded goalmouth before he blocked a Linglet attempt from Gleason Fournier’s pass.
With six seconds left on the penalty Killeen was again the player to keep Cardiff at bay. Back at full strength there was brief respite for the stopper when Valdix set up Wallace for a shot which rebounded off Devils’ goalie, Ben Bowns’ pads.
Killeen could do little though to stop Layne Ulmer’s top shelf shot for Devils’ leveller on 27mins 43secs.
The visitors snatched the lead while the two teams were four on four – Neiley and Matt Pope called for roughing a few seconds before Joey Martin was provider for Sean Bentivoglio from close range at 29mins 58secs.
It was a four minute penalty on Killeen for tripping and subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct that provided the opportunity for Devils to wrap up the game with a fourth goal on 34mins 31secs with Bentivoglio involved in Ulmer’s second of the game.
After that there was only going to be one winner – Lightning fans fearing even more goals by the opposition in the third period. That Devils did not add to their total was more down to the fact that they eased off and Killeen’s continuing heroics than any other reason.
Man of the match: Patrick Killeen (Sponsored by Smith Recycling)