SHEFFIELD Steelers closed the gap on Elite League leaders Belfast Giants to five points after a late goal from Jeff Legue gave them a 5-4 win at Dundee Stars.
Luke Fulghum had put the visitors ahead on the powerplay in the sixth minute, before Mike Ramsay made it 2-0 with a short-handed strike at 7.08.
But the defending champions - who have four games in hand on Belfast - were not to have it all their own way and the hosts, desperate to make the post-season play-offs, hit back swiftly.
Brennan Turner halved the deficit at 8.39 and it remained 2-1 until just 32 seconds into the second period when Mark Kolanos equalised for the home side.
The Steelers were then stunned when Dundee took a 3-2 lead in the 25th minute through AJ MacLean, But two goals in the last five minutes of the middle period - both on the powerplay - swung the encounter in Steelers’ favour again.
Colt King was first to pounce, when he pulled his side level at 35.51, before Fulghum grabbed his second of the night at 39.22.
But, once again, the hosts showed they were determined to avoid a six-game series whitewash at the hands of the Steelers when Kolanos dragged them level once again, firing home on the powerplay at 44.12.
And the Stars looked to have done enough to take the game into overtime and secure a valuable point until top scorer Legue struck with only 70 seconds remaining to seal two valuable points for the Steelers.
Steelers will now look to repeat Tuesday night’s 4-2 triumph at home over Nottingham Panthers when the two teams meet again at the National Ice Centre on Saturday night.
HULL Stingrays face a tough task to put further distance between themselves and Dundee when they travel to Belfast on Friday night.
Sylvain Cloutier’s team currently lie seventh in the table and 10 points ahead of ninth-placed Dundee, who currently lie just outside the play-off placings.
Hull will head across the Irish Sea seriously short on numbers, with forward Matty Davies out after suffering a concussion in last Sunday’s 3-2 home win over Dundee and defenceman Martin Ondrej also doubtful with a lower-body injury. Top scorer Jereme Tendler remains suspended pending an appeal after he tested positive in a drugs test last month.
“We’ve been playing short-benched since December anyway, so if we have to carry on playing with less imports then so be it,” said Cloutier.
“We’ve stuck together well in recent weeks and we’ve just got to keep plugging away.
“It’s going to be tough in Belfast for us but it’s a fun place to play and there’s always a big crowd.
“Our effort and commitement in the last three games has been phenomenal and we need to make sure we maintain that in Belfast.”
Stingrays get Saturday night off after their trip to Northern Ireland before welcoming Cardiff Devils to Hull Arena on Sunday night (6pm).
SHEFFIELD Steeldogs sealed a place in the English Premier League Cup final after a 0-0 draw was enough to give them a 1-0 aggregate win over Milton Keynes Lightning.
Andre Payette’s team will face either Manchester Phoenix or Guildford Flames in the final.