The Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning ended their losing streak in style with a 6-1 drubbing of the visiting Glasgow Clan last night (Wednesday 14th November).
A dominant power-play, in front of the FreeSports TV cameras, helped guide the Lightning to their fourth win in the Elite League, improving them to a 4-11-2 record.
The Lightning took an early lead after Eric Neiley carried the puck to the net and slotted a perfect pass across the face of the goalie, with recent signing Robbie Baillargeon tapping the puck beyond Joel Rumpel.
The home side found themselves on the power-play for the first time of the night just a few seconds later when Zack Fitzgerald was sent to the box for a delay of the game, sending his puck over the boards without any deflections.
This also led to a short stoppage in play as a fan in the stands was injured by the wayward puck, requiring medical attention.
Just over a minute later and the Lightning were given a 5-on-3 advantage when Matt Stanisz was assessed a tripping minor.
This power-play saw Tim Wallace earn the first of three goals on the night, with the team's unofficial captain leading by example with a clean wrist shot too strong to deal with by Rumpel.
The Clan pulled things back to make it a 2-1 game with just over a minute left in the first, but this was the last positive event for the visiting team as penalties and a strong Lightning showing saw them collapse in the second.
Wallace earned his second goal of the night when Brendan Connolly found himself in the box for a cross-check, leading to another power-play goal for the former NHL player.
A flurry of penalties ensued from both sides, with the Clan seeing four of their players sent to the box in quick succession, once again giving the Lightning plenty of opportunities on the power-play.
And once again, "Super" Tim Wallace stepped up again and delivered, securing his hat trick and seeing the home side take a 4-1 lead.
Tensions began to flare at this point, with the Clan's Fitzgerald being kicked from the game after receiving a kneeing penalty that ended with him punching Radek Meidl squarely in the face after the big Czech dropped his gloves to defend his teammate.
In the proceeding chaos of players reacting, the Clan's Connolly decided to try and get physical with Lightning goaltender Patrick Killeen.
Clearly unimpressed with this, Cole Shudra jumped off the bench and charged down the ice to drop his gloves and stand up for his teammate - with Connolly being knocked down quickly after a flurry of punches.
Shudra's leaving the bench saw him ejected from the game while Connolly received two-plus-ten for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Things settled in the third, but the Lightning continued to dominate, despite seeing the visitors produce 11 more shots by the end.
A power-play goal from Eric Neiley and a goal by Gorgs Golovkovs, both assisted by Wallace and Andreas Valdix, secured the home side a more-boosting win that ended their long losing streak.
The game was electric and entertaining from the word go and the team looked markedly different with former Lightning assistant coach Lewis Clifford behind the bench, alongside Ryan Lannon.
Doug McKay's departure earlier in the day was the big talking point heading into the game and the result will no doubt encourage fans that things can get better if the players are able to play the same way they did in this game.
It was a truly positive night for a team that has had a lot of negativity hanging over them in recent weeks and it was clear to see the delight on the players' faces as they left the ice to the loudest cheers of the entire season.
The game also saw Robbie Baillargeon earn another goal since arriving at the Lightning, with the former Tulsa Oilers and Orlando Solar Bears player having had a big impact on the team since his arrival.
Speaking after the game, Baillargeon commented: “I thought we played great, I’ve only been here for eight games but that was the best game we’ve played.”
“In all the zones, offensively, defensively and special teams I think we definitely won that battle.”
“So overall I think we played great and it’s nice to get that win, it’s my first win here so it feels good to get that out of the way.”
On scoring the opening goal of the game, Baillargeon commented: “It felt good. It was a nice play by Neiler [Eric Neiley], he just beat that guy wide.”
“He used his speed, he has a tonne of it, so it’s awesome to see him use it. I just went to the net, he made an unbelievable pass too. I just happened to put it in.”