It's fifth time lucky for Wildcats as they break MK curse
Updated 11:23pm Wednesday 19th February 2014 in By Tom Bassam, Chief sports writer
JAN Kostal scored with less than three minutes left in overtime to give Swindon Wildcats a 3-2 comeback victory and end Milton Keynes Lightning’s hoodoo over them this season.
The win was no more than Cats deserved after twice clawing themselves back into the game against a dogged Milton Keynes side who had won all four of the two teams’ previous meetings this season.
For Wildcats, the win was redemptive in terms of their recent flat form and in a game where they gifted the lead away twice. Cats’ performance in overtime was especially pleasing as Kostal's winner looked on the cards for most of the period.
However the game did not start in such a dynamic fashion. A quiet first period was punctuated with rare moments of quality as Swindon struggled to gain a foothold in the game.
Kostal and Henri Sandvik looked most likely to break the deadlock as Cats piled on the pressure, Kostal having a shot tipped over and going close with a slapshot.
Sandvik caused real panic for the Lightning netminder as the period entered its final minute, with a wrist shot from an acute angle by the boards which almost caught him out as the puck seemed to stick between his legs for an age before the defence mopped up.
Lightning played mostly on the break but brought the best out of Cats goalie Stevie Lyle on a couple of occasions.
Blaz Emersic carried the most threat to the Cats goal, putting Shane Moore under pressure with his speed. With 2.14 remaining he capitalised on a mistake by the Cats captain, wrapping around and forcing Lyle to be sharp at his near post.
MK had the best of the last two minutes of the period as Cats failed to clear their D. The visitors racking up the shot count beating Wildcats eight to 17 but these efforts were mostly speculative.
As the second period started it was the Sandvik/Kostal line that looked most likely but Lyle was the busier keeper having to show a quick glove on a number of occasions.
Cats were the architects of their own downfall as MK twice took the lead in the second period.
They fell behind with 14.54 remaining as Cats were left shorthanded by a Lightning breakaway. Emersic held up Moore before laying it into the path of Emmerson who beat Lyle from close range.
Cats fought back with good pressure immediately and were rewarded when Floyd Taylor fired home a slapshot from the blue line through a crowd of bodies.
However it seemed Cats were determined to undermine their hard work. On a Cats powerplay a hopeful flick forward from MK was fielded by Lyle but he fumbled it into the path of Stanislav Lascek who pounced on a sleeping Moore to steer in (8.29).
Wildcats hit back almost immediately as Swedish forward Jonas Hoog was afforded too much room after picking up the puck behind the Lightning net and fired a wrist shot in under little pressure (7.14).
Lyle was forced into flicking the puck over the boards and was penalised, with Watt serving the powerplay, though Lightning failed to make anything of their man advantage.
It was Cats who went closest as the period petered out, Taylor forcing a scramble in front goal but Smith couldn't stretch to finish.
The third period past by with only flutters of action before a bust-up between Sandvik and Zatopek brought a scrappy but actionless double power play.
With time running out Lyle had to be at his best to stop Adam Carr when he went through one on one as he forced the MK forward's effort over the boards.
After that the period only flitted with action before heading to overtime.
Cats dominated the extra period with Kostal's winner coming as he latched on to a loose puck and evaded the scrambling MK defence man before sliding in.