SHEFFIELD STEELERS ensured they go into Wednesday's crucial Elite League title clash with the Cardiff Devils in fine form by registering a thumping 9-0 win at bottom club Edinburgh Capitals.
The Scottish club – rocked by the departure of several key players in the past fortnight – were always likely to struggle to contain the visiting Steelers last night and so it proved as Ben Simon's team chalked up their biggest win of the season.
It took the visitors a while to get into their stride but once defenceman Kevin Bolibruck opened the scoring just over two minutes into the second period, there was no way back for the Capitals.
Further second period goals followed from Ashley Tait, Derek Campbell and Joey Talbot, before third period strikes from Simon, Neil Clark (2), Jason Hewitt and another from Campbell completed the rout.
Simon admitted his team were slow to get off the mark and then benefitted from the home side being severely depleted in terms of numbers.
"I'll put the first period down to bus legs" said Simon. "Give Edinburgh credit, they played hard and they can compete for 15-20 minutes. After that their go-to guys just couldn't keep up at the same pace and our depth took over."
The Steelers - missing defenceman Steve Munn at Murrayfield - remain third in the the table, three points adrift of second-placed Belfast Giants but with four games in hand.
The Giants have been replaced at the top of the table by Cardiff, who stretched their winning streak to a remarkable 19 games with a 7-1 humbling of Dundee Stars in South Wales.
While Wednesday's mouth-watering clash at Sheffield Arena between the Steelers and Cardiff won't necessarily decide where the regular season title is destined, defeat for the Steelers – who have played one less game than Gerad Adams's team – would leave them facing a six-point gap to make up.