TOM BARRASSO praised the resilience of his Sheffield Steelers team after recording back-to-back victories over fiercest rivals Nottingham Panthers - but admitted they enjoyed a slice of luck in order to do so.
The game’s most controversial moment came early in the third period when, with the teams tied at 2-2, Panthers’ Alexandre Bolduc had a goal ruled out for interference on goaltender Matt Climie.
Nottingham still went ahead nearly 10 minutes later through Alex Guptill’s second of the night but, in front of a sell-out 9,000-plus crowd at Sheffield Arena, the Steelers rallied impressively to hit back with three unanswered goals, including a stunning gfame-winner by defenceman Josh McFadden
There was plenty at stake and no shortage of intensity given Steelers’ 3-2 win after a shoot-out the night before in Nottingham and they struck first on home ice thanks to a neat bit of skill from Evan McGrath, who slid the puck past Michael Garnett after working space form himself in front.
The Panthers were soon level, however, when a giveaway by Josh Pitt in front of his own net allowed Guptill to beat Climie from a tight angle at 12.47.
Quick transition saw the Panthers take the lead through a pinpoint shot from Bolduc at 25.58 and when the Steelers failed to take advantage of a two-minute 5-on-3 power play, there was a feeling it might just not be their night.
But, at 32.39, a neat feed from Rob Dowd from the left was skilfully tipped in from mid-air by the advancing John Armstrong to level matters.
After the Bolduc’s effort was controversially ruled out in the 43rd minute, chances came and went at both ends with Justin Buzzeo and Bolduc both missing excellent 1-on-1 opportunities.
But another giveaway by the Steelers in their own zone left the Panthers with a man over on the right, that man being Guptill who drilled past Climie at 50.04.
Just 41 seconds later, however, the Steelers were level when the persistent Pitt fired home a rebound, although the best was the come just 16 seconds later when McFadden broke up a Panthers attack before advancing to just inside into the Panthers zone from where he unleashed an unstoppable shot into Garnett’s top left-hand corner.
A little over two minutes later and McGrath doubled his tally for the night as well as Steelers’ lead when he tipped home a Pitt shot on the power play.
“Our team has been very resilient and has fought back on a bunch of occasions,” said Barrasso, after his team recorded back-to-back victories for the first time since . “Our motto is to just ‘stay in the fight’ we did a good job of that.
“But I thought the goal they had disallowed looked a good goal and it was fortunate that they called it off.”