Nottingham Panthers 5-3 Sheffield Steelers (Elite Series Final Match One) 01.05.21
The Nottingham Panthers took game one of the Elite Series Playoff Finals on Saturday night in a thrilling encounter with the Sheffield Steelers.
Jackson Whistle got the start in goal for the Panthers opposite John Muse for the Steelers.
The opening minutes of the game were as tight as you’d expect with so much on the line but Kevin Domingue almost broke the deadlock but Muse fought off his heavy shot from the right-wing.
Domingue, Christophe Boivin and Brett Perlini then combined, after a good right-pad save by Whistle, to race up the ice and force Muse into another good save.
Nottingham went to the powerplay (15.27) when Sheffield were called for having too-many-men on the ice but despite dominating possession they couldn’t create any clear cut opportunities and the man-advantage came to nothing.
Sheffield then had their chance on the powerplay when Mark Matheson (19.44) was sent to the box for slashing and it took them just six seconds to open the scoring, Robert Dowd (19.50) beating Whistle with a quick shot after a face-off win to send the Panthers into the first period intermission trailing 1-0.
The Panthers didn’t let that Steelers’ goal get them down though and they answered right back in the second period, Mark Matheson (22.20) crashing the net and forcing a rebound over the line to get Nottingham on the board.
All the momentum was with Nottingham and Josh Tetlow hit the post before Dominic Talbot-Tassi kept his feet moving to draw the Panthers’ second powerplay of the night and they as good as took advantage.
Moments after Eberle stepped out of the box Talbot-Tassi (27.26) fired a shot across Muse and into the back of the Steelers’ net to give the Panthers their first lead of the game.
A turnover in the defensive allowed Jonathan Phillips (31.23) to skate in one-on-one with Whistle and tie the game back up but just over a minute later Nottingham were back in front when Josh Tetlow (32.37), skating down the left-wing, unleashed a perfect shot that hit the post on it’s way into the back of the net to give Nottingham a 3-2 lead.
There was more scoring in the period and it went the way of the Steelers, Josef Mikyska’s (36.53) shot from a bad angle catching Whistle unaware and sending the teams into the second intermission tied with three goals each.
An ill-advised roughing penalty to Liam Kirk (41.51) gave the Panthers the chance they needed to go back in front, Ollie Betteridge (42.55) digging out his own rebound after initially hitting the post and squeezing the puck over the line.
Sheffield did challenge the goal, contesting that Muse had it covered, but a quick check revealed there was nothing untoward and Nottingham went 4-3 ahead.
The Steelers almost answered right back but Sondre Olden chipped his breakaway effort over the top of Whistle’s goal.
Blocked shots, big saves and end-to-end play saw a riveting finish to the game and when Sheffield pulled Muse in favour of the extra-attacker Dominic Talbot-Tassi (59.12) fired into the empty net from his own end of the ice to see the Panthers to a 5-3 win and one game lead in the best-of-three series.
*Main image @PanthersIHC the Panthers players celebrate winning the first match against Sheffield.