Chris Lawrence scores the Nottingham Panthers' game-winning goal against Beibarys Atyrau in the shootout. Photo: Max Pattis
Lawrence scores shootout winner vs. Atyrau
The Nottingham Panthers also won their second game at the 2017 IIHF Continental Cup Final. The British team defeated Beibarys Atyrau 3-2 in shootout.
The win means the Panthers stay in contention to win the Continental Cup while Beibarys Atyrau can’t reach first place anymore after the second loss in two games.
“It’s a great feeling you score a game-winner,” said Chris Lawrence, who scored the deciding goal in the shootout. “We knew it’s going to be hard work and it was. They played the puck very well while we went more direct to the net and tried to make it hard to them.”
It was a come-from-behind win for the hard-working British team after an unlucky start in the first period. At 13:44 Robert Farmer shot the puck in for the first time but the goal didn’t count because a teammate was in the crease. Just three minutes later Dmitri Stepanov ended the team’s first power play hammering the puck in from the blueline to give Beibarys Atyrau the lead.
However, with 22.6 seconds left in the period the British replied on a two-man advantage and with Jason Williams scoring from the left face-off circle.
The second period started with a shock for the Kazakhs when goaltender Adam Svoboda left the crease to clear a puck and collided with Nottingham player Chris Lawrence close to the blueline. Not prepared for the hit he had to leave the ice with an injury and was replaced by Artyom Mikushin.
The game between the Nottingham Panthers and Beibarys Atyrau was a clash between hockey cultures with the many North Americans on the English team and the Kazakh team influenced by the Russian hockey school.
Beibarys showed more skill and tried to score the goals with elegance but with too little coming out from dangerous situations while the Panthers had statistically more shots on goal during the first two periods without challenging the goalies too often. But the Panthers worked hard and stayed stubborn, such as in the situation at 13:30 of the third period when Brian McGrattan scored on a rebound in front of goalie Mikushin to give the Panthers their first lead in the game after Farmer’s shot had hit the crossbar.
“We played well in the beginning but the opponent was good and we tied the game, it went back and forth. In the last period their goal brought them back into the game and I think that was the turning point,” said Beibarys forward Tomas Vak.
Now Beibarys Atyrau had to put everything to the front and just 79 seconds later Dmitri Stepanov scored with a one-timer a drop pass from Pavel Plotnikov to tie the game at two. The Kazakhs had the chance for even more when they were awarded two power plays but the Panthers defended well and blocked the shots to force overtime.
With Albert Vishnyakov taking a penalty for slashing at the end of the third period it was the Nottingham Panthers who started the extra period with a man advantage. But despite two minutes of 4-on-3 and a couple of chances the British didn’t capitalize on this opportunity. They did better in the shootout where Matt Carter and Lawrence scored the goals to win the game and stay in the race for the Continental Cup winners’ plate.