The Nottingham Panthers endured yet another difficult night as they were defeated 5-1 by the Manchester Storm at the NIC.
Goals from Scott Simmonds (2), Anthony DeLuca, Chase Harrison and Tyson Fawcett overruled Stephen Anderson’s consolation goal and consigned Nottingham to an eighth defeat in their last 10 games on home ice.
The defeat extends Panthers’ unwanted record against Manchester, with Nottingham tasting defeat in all four of their league meetings with Matt Ginn’s side so far this season.
The Storm, who are the Panthers’ closest rivals when it comes to the battle for Playoff seeding, now sit four points ahead of Corey Neilson’s side in sixth place, having played a game more.
After a 4-1 loss at the hands of bitter rivals the Sheffield Steelers in South Yorkshire the night before, Neilson shuffled his pack for Sunday’s clash with the Storm.
Mathieu Gagnon was restored to the line-up at the expense of Tanner Sorenson, meaning Fabrizio Ricci returned to the forward line, while Peyton Jones replaced Alex Dubeau in goal.
However, it didn’t take long for the Storm to open the scoring. With the first real chance of the game and just 3.56 on the clock, Simmonds re-directed Zac Herrmann’s shot from the blueline into the top corner to put the visitors ahead.
After falling behind, Panthers began to gradually grow into the game, with both Niko Lahtinen and Albin Lindgren forcing Storm goaltender Jeremy Brodeur, son of NHL legend Martin, into saves in the following minutes.
Manchester remained a threat on the break and Tyler Barrow almost doubled their lead when he pounced upon a Panthers error at 7.01, but he couldn’t beat Jones from close range.
As the period wore on, Nottingham were beginning to create more and more chances. Adam Brady’s low deflected effort was gloved by Brodeur at 9.53, before the Storm goaltender was on hand again to deny youngster Jack Hopkins less than a minute later.
Despite the Panthers’ pressure, they were far from comfortable in their own zone and Simmonds almost had his second at 14.42 after another defensive error from the Panthers, but his effort was turned away by Jones.
The second period began with chances at both ends as Ricci was denied on a breakaway by Brodeur, before DeLuca’s one timer was turned away by Jones just 10 seconds later.
Manchester doubled their advantage on the powerplay at 25.58. With Lahtinen serving a penalty for holding, DeLuca fired a wrist shot under the arm of Jones to provide vital breathing room for the visitors.
The lead was extended further at 30.40 as defenceman Harrison drilled a slapshot through Jones, after DeLuca’s pass had deflected towards him invitingly.
However, Nottingham rallied in the final stages of the period and Brodeur was forced into an outstanding glove save as Matthew Myers turned Mike Hammond’s cross-ice pass goalward.
The pressure told at 38.28 when David Levin fed Anderson, who drove to the net and lifted the puck over the shoulder of Brodeur to make the score 3-1 and break the Storm goaltender’s shutout.
But any hopes of a Panthers fightback were put to bed just four minutes into the third period.
Simmonds tipped home Kevin Ekman-Larsson’s shot from the point for his second of the night to effectively ice the game at 44.02.
Nottingham would have their misery compounded further at 54.02 when DeLuca’s pass released Fawcett and he produced a neat backhand finish on the breakaway to make it 5-1 to the Storm and cap off a truly miserable weekend for the Panthers.
*Article provided by Evan Shaw (Nottingham Panthers Correspondent).
*Main image @PanthersIHC Anderson scores but it’s defeat for Nottingham against the Storm.