By Kris Smith
Stars fell to a late overtime defeat in Milton Keynes last night as they were beaten 3-2, Omar Pacha’s side collected four points from their four games this week.
Once again Matt Bissonnette was missing from the Stars line-up because of injury, while James Griffin, Rio Grinell-Parke and Nelson Armstrong were not in the Lightning team.
There were no clear-cut chances in the opening five minutes as the game got off to a slow start, but eventually there was a good move by Dundee as all three forwards linked up before François Bouchard’s shot was saved by the pad of Patrick Killeen.
Milton Keynes got the opening goal after Eric Neiley had been left alone in the slot and managed to pull in the pass before quickly firing into the top corner in the eighth minute. Dundee were in trouble again as another dead puck dropped in front of the Stars goal but this time the defence were able to clear.
The home side could have been well ahead but a big double stop by Pontus Sjögren denied the Lightning as he stopped a slapshot effort before snatching another shot with his glove. Dundee gained the first powerplay of the night following an elbowing call against Martin Mazanec in 12th minute.
Eric Neiley put the puck in the net shorthanded with help from Tim Wallace, who provided a screen in front of the Stars netminder but it is washed out after a review by the officials. The powerplay was killed off before a chance for Brian Hart almost drew Stars level, he moved the puck in front of the Lightning goal but was denied with a powerful effort.
There were chances for both teams but neither could get the next goal as the first period concluded with Milton Keynes 1-0 in the lead.
It was a quick start by Stars in the middle stanza, Charlie Corcoran was coming down the right flank with speed but was denied at the near post. Milton Keynes then made a big play and tested the Stars goalie but Sjögren held the effort well.
With five minutes played in the second, Owen Griffiths got through 1-on-1, however he missed the target as the Stars looked asleep at the back. Sjögren had been bailing Dundee out before he got a break as Stars gained a long 5-on-3 powerplay.
Lightning had Wallace and Mazanec in the box but managed to kill off the two man advantage before Wallace picked the pocket of a Dundee defenceman after getting out the box. He fed a pass to Mazanec, who played in Griffiths at the back door in the 31st minute to double the Lightning’s lead.
Stars were put on their first penalty kill as Kris Inglis was boxed on an interference call in the 32nd minute. Omar Pacha’s men maintained their 100 per cent penalty kill record and soon were back on the powerplay as Joonas Huovinen was penalised for interference.
Stars were unable to get a goal back on the powerplay but as the period entered the final minute, Lundvald had a dangerous chance after rounding the net and firing a shot into the goal but it would not count as Ryan Lannon had knocked the goal off its pegs, leaving Stars on a powerplay that would span into the third period.
Lannon’s penalty expired despite Dundee creating dangerous chances including Johan Andersson’s tipped shot that slipped just wide of goal.
Dundee continued their dominant start to the third period and the unsighted Killeen was forced to sprawl out to make a big save and keep his side ahead. Stars eventually created a chance that was too much for the Lightning goalie, as several rebounds were saved before Drydn Dow knocked the puck home in the 48th minute.
Stars were playing with a spring in their step but a 2-on-1 break for Doug Mckay’s side almost restored their two-goal cushion, if it were not for the blocker of Sjögren. Pacha’s men were driving at the Milton Keynes defence but another quick counter by the Lightning seen Michael Fine denied by the post.
Dow was involved again as Dundee found an equaliser in the 54th minute, he played a pass into Hart, who was waiting on the doorstep and after a few attempts got it past Killeen. Stars continued to play with more energy and Lukas Lundvald was close to sending them into the lead with a great chance from distance.
The visitors ran into penalty trouble as first Fabrizio Ricci then Bouchard were sent to the penalty box for minor offences but Dundee held on to send the game to overtime.
It was a fast-paced start by Milton Keynes and a big shot was held by Sjögren early in the extra period but the Lightning kept creating breaks and building pressure against Stars. Charlie Corcoran picked up a tripping penalty in the 63rd minute and with the 4-on-3 advantage, Milton Keynes were knocking the puck around well, however Stars eventually managed to clear.
Inside the final minute of overtime Andreas Valdix stepped in the slot and fired his shot past Sjögren for a powerplay and game-winning goal.
Eric Neiley and Dundee’s Drydn Dow were awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ prizes. Omar Pacha will not have long to prepare his side for the first visit of the reigning champions, the Cardiff Devils this Wednesday.