Milton Keynes Lightning have one skate in the final four play-offs at Coventry after league champions Telford Tigers were handed a 5-2 defeat at Planet Ice on Saturday.

Tigers were outplayed in all three periods as Lightning again started the game at pace – outshooting their opponents 15-4 in the first period alone. By the final buzzer, the shots on goal tally read 50-26 in MK’s favour.

The result left Lightning as the only team with maximum points in the two play-off groups and realistically needing just one more victory to assure the side of a trip to the Skydome.

Telford were reduced to four skaters as early as 2mins 32secs when Andy McKinney was sin binned for slashing. There was no breakthrough on the powerplay though, with Leigh Jamieson and Tim Wallace both denied by goalie Brad Day while Liam Stewart shot wide.

The Sean Norris, Sam Talbot and Bobby Chamberlain line then started to cause real problems for the Tigers backline. Norris broke away after a turnover in defence, while a Talbot reverse pass found Chamberlain who shot over. Once again, Norris was in position to take the pass out of defence and feed Talbot with a shot that was blocked.

Chamberlain drove his way through three players but couldn’t get a decent shot before eventually Day’s goal cracked open as the trio found a way through, Norris feeding Chamberlain who was left in space to pick his spot for the opening goal on 11mins 34secs.

McKinney and Mikey Power engaged in a bout of fisticuffs a minute or so later – giving the pair a five-minute cooling off spell in the penalty boxes for fighting. But there was no addition to the score in the first session.

Tigers threatened more after the break although MK defended a short-handed spell well when Norris was sidelined for two minutes for elbows. The visitors equalised on 26mins 48seconds after winning a face off in the neutral zone – Jack Hopkins claiming possession to supply the veteran Jason Silverthorn to beat netminder Matt Smital.

Lightning were back in front on 34mins 8secs, thanks to a five on three powerplay resulting from Jake Price’s blatant tripping of Chamberlain, quickly followed by a delay of the game call on McKinney – Norris firing through a narrow gap to score.

Hallden Barnes-Garner tipped in a long range Tim Wallace pass to take the tally to 3-1 on 39mins 31secs before Tigers’ quickly responded as a Finley Howells blast against the backboards rebounded with the puck appearing to go in off the back of Smital 12 seconds before the intermission to make it 3-2.

It did take long for MK to restore the two goal gap as the third session got underway – this time Wallace fed Barnes-Garner from the right for a first time blast into the net at 41mins 53secs.

Telford’s indiscipline in the final minutes cost them any chance of a late fightback after they failed to make anything of Wallace’s cross-checking penalty – the resulting powerplay ending prematurely when Dan Rose hooked down Talbot.

Nick Oliver went for a cross-checking offence in the 55th minute, quickly followed by holding call on Corey Goodison and then Silverthorn forced to spend two minutes in the sin bin for tripping Norris. It did nothing to help Tigers’ composure.

The final penalty resulted in MK’s fifth strike with Ed Knaggs supplying Adam Laishram for an upstairs shot into the roof of the net, giving Day no chance at 58mins 54secs.

Man of the match: Hallden Barnes-Garner.