By Kris Smith
Stars put in a good performance in their final home game of the 2017/18 season but it was not enough to win any points against a playoff ready Panthers side.
Dundee were without Riley Stadel and Chris Lawrence for their final home match, as Nottingham went without Michael Garnett, Joseph Hazeldine, Jordan Kelsall and David Clarke.
The first chance of the game went the way of Stars as Anthony Mastrodicasa fired a slapshot toward Patrick Galbraith in the Nottingham goal but the rebound escaped Jimmy Jensen, who was waiting at the open back door.
Dundee were asking early questions again as Lukas Lundvald pulled the puck off the boards and skated toward goal, but his wrist shot was held safely in the chest of the Nottingham goalie. Cody Carlson took a shot that just looped over the bar as Dundee began to dominate the opening five minutes of play. Gabriel Lévesque turned possession over to Nottingham’s Raphaël Bussières but he fired high, over the target. Lévesque then had a slapshot blocked by Yann Sauvé as Dundee went the other way. A good move between Jordan Cownie, Brian Hart and Malcolm Gould almost created the opener. Cownie played Hart into the Panthers zone, before the American fired a shot that hit the pads of Galbraith, and Gould was lurking, waiting to snap up any loose rebounds but the Dane covered the puck for whistle.
Dundee were looking dangerous again and when Ben Edmonds was standing unmarked with possession, he sent a pass into the slot and the waiting Marc-Olivier Mimar rifled one high past Galbraith at 8:38. However, it only took a few minutes for Panthers to find a response as Mike Vaskivuo picked up the loose rebound and buried it past Travis Fullerton at 11:40 on the feed from Zack Phillips.
Some aggressive goaltending followed as Fullerton saved another chance late in the period. Malcolm Gould was wiped out on the counter by Stephen Lee which caught the attention of Emerson Hrynyk, he went toe-to-toe with the Nottingham defenceman with some heavy blows being exchanged before Lee got the takedown.
Jeff Brown picked up a tripping minor with less than two minutes to play in the opening period, meaning Stars would start the next period on the powerplay.
Corey Neilson’s side killed off the penalty but shortly after were back playing shorthanded after Robert Farmer was penalised for interference in the twenty-second minute. Panthers once again killed off the minor but Stars were containing the English side well despite some physical play from Nottingham.
Phillips had a ‘grade A’ scoring chance after he collected a rebound in open ice but a good block by Mastrodicasa prevented the puck from getting through to the Dundee goal. Carlson was next to sit in the box as Nottingham got their first man advantage of the evening.
They almost took the lead after Jeff Brown was looking for Vaskivuo at the backdoor but he was unable to connect with his teammate before Brett Perlini skated too fast past an open goal after pulling out some flashy moves to beat Fullerton. Stars killed off the penalty but were quickly on the backfoot after Mark Derlago’s stick broke but he quickly kicked the puck out to Luke Pither and he shot it past Fullerton at 29:09 to put the road team ahead.
Carlson hit the side-netting after the restart and Dundee went back on the powerplay as Pither was boxed on a boarding call. There weren’t many chances for Stars, apart from when Lundvald rattled the pipes before the powerplay ended.
Fullerton closed his legs to deny Perlini after a quick cross-ice pass but he was unabkle to stop Phillips and Evan Mosey, as the pair moved in slowly before Mosey released a quick shot that went under the Stars netminder at 35:27. Lundvald then drew an easy penalty out of Gagnon as Dundee gained a four minute powerplay, which would carry over into the third period.
Omar Pacha’s side were getting some good shots on Galbraith but the Dane was holding well. A very well worked move up the ice from Dundee gave them a crucial goal heading into the break. It started at the back with Mastrodicasa before he moved it onto Mimar and he skated into the zone before passing to Johan Andersson who was in the slot and he beat Galbraith with a beautiful shot at 39:05 on the powerplay. Stars would start the final period with a 5-on-3 powerplay after Sauvé picked up a roughing minor and a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with less than a second remaining on the clock in the second stanza.
Dundee got off to a great start in third, after a well worked passing move around the three Panthers, the puck fell to Mastrodicasa who flung a snapshot high past Galbraith at 40:50. The rest of the powerplays were killed off by Nottingham before Dundee came close to getting back in front. Carlson played the puck into the feet of Hart, as he stood on the edge of the crease but his shot slipped wide of the goal.
A good move forward by Stars culminated with Hart setting-up Mimar but Galbraith made the stop with his blocker to keep the game tied at 3-3. Perlini took the puck in deep and forced Fullerton to drop and spread out across the ice, as he made the Panther skate wide but Perlini tried to sneak it in at the post. The Dundee defence managed to sweep it clear before Fullerton had to make another big stop, but he could not hold the rebound and after a struggle Dundee cleared again.
Alexander Mokshantsev put the home side on their eighth powerplay of the night but for the sixth time, it came up empty. Nottingham applied some pressure, but Fullerton was backing his team up well and the game remained tied with just over six minutes to play. Dundee started to get forward again, as Pacha’s shot was tipped wide before at the other end, a big hit on the blueline took the attention of the Stars players away.
Derlago sneaked in and beat the Stars netminder after he dived to his near post in attempt to stop the Panther but was unsuccessful at 55:42. Nottingham held the momentum and despite a timeout being called by Dundee and Fullerton being exchanged for the extra attacker in final minute, Stars could not find a late equaliser.
The game ended with Nottingham claiming their second win in two games on Scottish soil this weekend and the completed the double with two wins out of two in Dundee this season. Luke Pither and Dundee’s Brian Hart were awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ prizes.
Stars now prepare for their final game of the season, as they travel to Belfast for an afternoon encounter with the Giants.