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Panthers take huge step towards playoff places

Photo: Panthers Images

Nottingham Panthers' second win of the week took them to within two points of a playoff place as they beat Coventry Blaze 4-1 in front of 5,887 fans at the Motorpoint Aena.

The Panthers came flying out of the traps in a game they knew they couldn’t afford to lose, and were good value for their two-goal lead after the first period. Hugo Roy had already hit the post in the early stages before the home side’s dominance finally told – a looping puck off an Olli Betteridge shot eventually deflected into the net off a high stick, but as it belonged to Blaze’s Kobe Roth the goal was correctly given at 13:41. Just over two minutes later, Mathieu Lemay almost scored a contender for goal of the season with some impressive dangles, but Alessio Luciani followed up on the rebound and saw his shot deflect past Taran Kozun to double the lead.

That Panthers pressure continued into period two. They went three ahead 8:55 into period two as an Otto Nieminen shot deflected off Stephen Anderson at the back post. It could have been more were it not for a combination of Kozun and blocks, but Coventry did eventually get themselves a goal through Ian McNulty with 4:57 left in the period. Hugo Roy restored the home side's two-goal advantage with 1:26 to play to have them 4-1 ahead through 40 minutes.

Coventry had an early powerplay in period three to try and get back nito things but to n oavail. When Stojanovič was called for Tripping with 3:02 to play, Danny Stewart called his timeout and pulled Kozen to go 6-on-4. Unfortunately for the visitors, however, it still couldn't find them a way back into the game. The Panthers were clapped home by their fans for a full two minutes until the final buzzer as they recorded a huge win in terms of the playoff push.

Coventry hang onto a playoff place by virtue of having played less games than Glasgow, although the Blaze travel to Guildford on Sunday. If they fail to pick up any points there, they will drop out of the top eight.

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