By Kris Smith
A mass scoring middle period got Stars back on track in the race for the final playoff spot.
Dundee were running at almost full-strength with just Joey De Concilys and Chris Lawrence missing from their line-up while their opponents, Milton Keynes were missing four players including goaltender, Miika Wiikman.
Marc-Olivier Mimar set up the game’s first chance as he fed a puck through to Jordan Cownie who was skating towards goal with speed. The Stars forward got a shot away but Jindrich Pacl made the stop. Brian Hart then had a chance to put Dundee ahead as he collected a rebound after Pacl made the save on the first shot, but Hart’s effort was deflected away from goal.
A bad giveaway in the Stars zone allowed the visitors to skate in with the puck and Denny Kearney passed the puck to the waiting Tommy Mele who beat Travis Fullerton from a wide angle at 5:36.
Milton Keynes swiftly doubled their lead as Kevin King flicked a backhanded shot past Fullerton at 5:51. Lightning had dumped the puck into the Stars zone and a pass was sent in front of goal to King and he finished off with a beautiful finish.
Dundee had hit problems in their defensive zone as another giveaway almost put the road team 3-0 up but this time Fullerton bailed them out. At the other Pacl made a nice poke check save to keep the home team off the scoreboard and Stars were creating multiple chances in front of the Lightning net but the goaltender was making saves from every angle.
The first period approached its conclusion with both teams having good opportunities to score but the once again the keepers came out on top.
Omar Pacha clearly got his side fired up in the break as Stars pulled a goal back after just twenty-four seconds into the second period. Hart was forechecking well and a loose puck in front of the Milton Keynes goal was controlled by Hart and he passed to the unmarked Lukas Lundvald who fired into the open net.
Jonathon Boxill had a chance to restore Milton Keynes’ tow goal cushion but a good kick save by the Dundee netminder kept out Boxill’s redirected shot. Lundvald then had a chance to tie the game when he was knocked over in front of the goal, the Dane swivelled and shot the puck, but it went wide of the goal.
Stars were looking extremely dangerous in the Lightning zone and inevitably an equaliser came, Hart dropped a pass off to Mimar and he released a beautiful shot that flew into the top corner of Pacl’s net at 23:41. The home side were then given the first powerplay of the night after Carl Hudson caught Cody Carlson in the face with his stick, so he sat for two minutes in the twenty-sixth minute.
Pete Russel’s penalty killing unit got off to a horrendous start as Dundee scored a goal from right on their doorstep. Gabriel Lévesque lifted a pass to Malcolm Gould and he lifted a shot high into the net as Pacl came down low to try and make the save at 27:25.
After a lot of pressure from the home team and a lot of saves from Pacl, his teammates finally moved forward into the Dundee end where Fullerton as forced to make two good saves. Although, he couldn’t get back into position before Guillaume Doucet blasted a shot on target and despite getting a piece of it, the Canadian could not keep it out at 28:23.
The game was not tied at 3-3 for long as Dundee went straight back on the attack, Lundvald was robbed by the pad of Pacl before a mix-up in the Milton Keynes defence allowed Lévesque to drag Pacl away from his net. The Stars forward sent a pass back across goal to Mimar who tapped it in at the back post at 30:22.
Dundee got another powerplay as King was sent to the box for interference in the thirty-second minute and once again the team from Tayside punished their opposition. Lundvald was behind the goal and quickly sent a pass to Hart who was in front of goal and he quickly slid it under Pacl to make it 5-3 Dundee at 32:52.
Pete Russel’s side weren’t at full strength for long as Kyle Essery was charged with goalie interference and Stars had a third man advantage. It was no surprise when they made it three for three on the powerplay, this time Riley Stadel unleashed his rocket of a slapshot that the Lightning keeper had no chance of stopping, 6-3 Stars at 34:12.
Gould failed to hit the target when he closed in on goal, but the Dundee forward lost his balance before going face first into the boards and left the ice for treatment. Both teams each took a minor penalty late in the period, but no chances were capitalised on and the second period ended with Dundee well ahead.
Milton Keynes got a great start to the third period after some scrappy play in front led to Fullerton being unable to hold a shot and the puck fell to Kearney and he tucks home just after the powerplay expired at 41:31.
However, once again Stars answered quickly and Lundvald was involved again as he went to pass the puck across the goal it deflected off the stick of Evan Stoflet and into the goal at 42:35.
The home side continued to push for more goals and netted their eighth goal through Johan Andersson after a loose puck came to the Swede, he blasted a shot into the net at 44:09. Pacl was replaced by Jordan Hedley after Dundee’s eighth goal and the 21-year old would play the final fifteen minutes of the game.
There were a few more minor penalties but nothing notable came from them. In the final minute of play, Cownie slipped a pass through to Lévesque and he beat Hedley with a lovely deke move to round off the scoring at 9-4 after 59:36.
Marc-Olivier Mimar and Lightning’s Denny Kearney collected the ‘Man of the Match’ prizes. Stars now have all week to prepare for next weekend’s game, they travel to Coventry for their final meeting with their playoff rivals. Dundee will be looking for redemption against Blaze after losing at home to Coventry on Saturday night, they then return to Scotland to host Fife Flyers for the final time this year.