Fourth-placed Steelers staged an impressive comeback to earn what could prove a crucial point after former Nottingham captain Danny Meyers popped up to equalise with just 17 seconds of normal time remaining.
But the Panthers gained an equally vital extra point and, should the current overall league leaders win Thursday night’s eagerly-anticipated rematch at the Motorpoint Arena, it would leave Ryan Finnerty’s team – now 11 points adrift of their East Midlands rivals – with a huge mountain to climb if they are to retain hopes of lifting a fourth regular season title.
It proved enough of an uphill struggle for the Steelers at a packed National Ice Centre on Boxing Day, going in 2-0 down at the end of the first period.
Nottingham broke the deadlock on the powerplay with Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips in the box on a slashing call, with David Clarke making the man advantage pay at 3.52. The home side doubled their lead at 15.16 - this time Jason Hewitt in the box on an interference call - when Jason Beckett slotted home past Steelers’ netminder John DeCaro.
In a more even second period – the visitors were outshot 13-4 in the first – the Steelers at least showed more fight. And it was from one such incident that they profited.
Moments after a raft of penalties had been handed out – most notably fighting majors to Steelers’ Steve Goertzen and Nottingham’s Guy Lepine – the visitors made the most of the resulting powerplay when Jeff Legue halved the deficit at 28.56.
Meyers struck his oh-so-timely blow at 59.43 but, after overtime and six rounds of penalties couldn’t separate the two, Eric Werner struck the winning blow having seen Steelers’ Shawn Limpright miss his third attempt just moments earlier.
SHEFFIELD Steeldogs snapped a nine-game losing streak with a magnificent 3-2 victory at EPL leaders Basingstoke Bison.
The result sets Andre Payette’s side up nicely for Saturday’s Roses clash at home against second-placed Manchester Phoenix.
The Steeldogs were forced to come from behind initially in Basingstoke, after falling behind to a sixth-minute strike from James Smith.
That was how it stayed until early in the second period when Steeldogs’ Lloyd Gibson equalised on the powerplay at 22.30. Defenceman Pavel Gomeniuk edged the visitors in front at 37.52 – again on the powerplay.
Joe Miller drew the early-season pace-setters level at 56.03 but, within two minutes, the Steeldogs had grabbed what proved to be the game-winner, Edgars Bebris firing home at 58.01.