By Kris Smith
Stars snapped their losing streak with a 4-3 overtime win over Milton Keynes after coming back from two goals down, twice.
Matt Bissonnette returned to the line-up after missing 13 games but Drydn Dow dropped out with an injury he picked up last weekend.
It was another terrible start for Dundee as Eric Neiley skated through the defence before a pass to Tim Wallace was quickly finished by the Lightning forward. Milton Keynes took the lead after just 44 seconds.
Fabrizio Ricci fired Dundee’s first chance of the game over the goal before Neiley was causing more trouble in the Stars end but could not connect with his shot. Ricci was quickly becoming a nuisance for the Lightning defence, although the two chances he created were stopped by the Milton Keynes goalie.
A diving poke check by Mike Sullivan broke up a Milton Keynes attack before Dundee built some pressure in the visitors’ end. Patrick Killeen made the first stop on a Stars shot before Jordan Cownie was unable to do anything with the rebound. Doug McKay’s side were creating very good scoring chances in the offensive end and it was not long before Michael Fine played a pass in front to Neiley from behind the Stars goal. With a high finish the forward bagged his second point of the night in the 10th minute.
It went from bad to worse for Dundee as they went shorthanded when Shawn Boutin was penalised for hooking in the 11th minute, he tried to pull back Andreas Valdix after the Lightning player went past him. Brian Hart won possession of the puck in his own end before skating it down the ice to kill some time off the penalty. The American tried to beat Killeen but seen his shot held before the penalty expired.
With Stars back to full strength, they continued their attacks on the Milton Keynes net with captain Johan Andersson next to see his effort denied inside the final five minutes of the first period. Omar Pacha’s men could not get off the mark before the end of the first period and went into the break down by two goals.
End-to-end play was how the second stanza started and no team could dominate possession until Martin Mazanec was boxed for elbowing in the 23rd minute. The home side created good pressure with the man advantage but were unsuccessful in finding their first goal of the evening.
Dundee netminder, Pontus Sjögren made a huge save after going from post-to-post to deny the waiting Lightning forward. Dundee finally found the net when Lukas Lundvald put his shot through the legs of Killeen in the 28th minute. Milton Keynes responded in quick fashion as Lundvald was knocked over in the offensive end before Lightning broke down the ice with four attackers against the one Dundee defender. The puck came to Cole Shudra and he held onto possession before shooting through the legs of Sjögren at the halfway point.
The goals continued to come as Pacha’s side pulled it back to 3-2. Kris Inglis fired a slapshot from the blueline that was blocked before Andersson knocked the loose rebound past Killeen in the 34th minute. Moments after the goal, Hart passed the puck out in front of goal and Boutin was coming in at speed but blasted his shot into the chest of the Lightning goalie.
The Dundee goalie was then forced to make a strong glove save with just 13 seconds left on the clock as the Buckinghamshire club broke with great speed late in the second period. The second stanza concluded with Stars trailing by a single goal and that set-up a big third period for Pacha’s men.
Both teams were cancelling each other out early in the third. Stars gained a two-man advantage on the powerplay when penalties against Shudra and Nelson Armstrong gave Dundee their big chance to equalise. However, despite having 58 seconds on a 5-on-3 powerplay the home side continued to trail.
Connor Cox had the best chance to tie the game but he could not control the puck when he was unmarked at the back post. Stars kept getting closer and closer to finding that game tying goal and as the game entered the final minutes, Matt Marquardt was found in his usual danger area and he fired a shot past Killeen in the 56th minute. The home side were in top gear as they started to hound the Lightning keeper with shots and McKay’s side had to be at their best to keep them out.
Again, Stars found the back of the net inside the final two minutes but referee Alan Ward waived it off immediately. No one could find a decider before Stars headed into their fifth straight game where extra time was required.
Both teams had chances early on and Valdix went closest for Milton Keynes but failed to get his shot off after weaving through defenders. Marquardt, François Bouchard and Charles Corcoran were all denied before in the 64th minute, Bouchard held onto the puck in the Lightning end before releasing a shot from the left circle that went in at the far post. Omar Pacha’s men snapped a nine-game losing streak and won their only game of this weekend. Eric Neiley and Dundee’s François Bouchard were chosen as the ‘Man of the Match’ winners.