Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning were shut out at home for only the second time this season when they fell 3-0 to Guildford Flames on Boxing Day.
The margin of the loss equalled that of the 6-3 defeat at MK Arena by Belfast Giants in early December.
Flames took an early lead through Ben Davies on the powerplay after 4mins 55secs while Kevin King was sitting out a cross checking penalty – the assists going to Geoff Walker and Jesse Craige.
It was a lead that Flames were never going to surrender, despite both Lewis Hook and Guillaume Doucet both having useful chances a couple or so minutes later. When Lightning were presented with a powerplay opportunity in the 11thminute as Ben Campbell went for hooking they couldn’t take advantage.
Kyle Essery went close but not close enough before netminder Chris Carrozzi blocked a King effort ahead of the captain trying to set up Ben Foster without success.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Ian Watters after 16mins 57secs once again gave the hosts a man advantage from which they could not capitalise and it was much the same when Brennan Yadwloski visited the sin bin for holding almost immediately after the start of the middle period.
Lightning had to survive a five on three penalty when Jonathan Boxill joined Christian Isackson on the penalty bench in the 27th minute – the latter for illegal equipment and the former for hooking. The spell passed with no further damage to the home goal.
Goalie Miika Wiikman had to be on top form to twice deny Campbell – the Brit first trying to beat him by coming from behind the net and then dispossessing Quin Pompi before shooting high.
It was a penalty on King for cross checking that quickly allowed Flames to double their lead – within 33 seconds of the call at 34mins 1sec Davies had beaten Wiikman following Liam Stewart’s supply.
Hopes of a third period fightback from Lightning were quickly quashed – the home outfit thought they had cut the deficit on 44mins 19secs but referee Stefan Hogarth ruled the attempt by Denny Kearney out, judging that the puck had been kicked in.
There was a late chance for Lightning as James Griffin fired in from the right wing but Carrozzi was up to the challenge. That was as good as it got for MK and their fate was sealed after Wiikman was pulled for the extra skater in the final minute – Watters scoring on the empty net for Guildford’s third at 59mins 20secs.
Man of the match: Lewis Hook.
Photo: Tony Sargent