With time ticking away the Flames were closing in on a road point, but a Panthers goal with less than 3 minutes on the clock unlocked a 1-1 tie then an empty netter sent the visitors away on the back of a 3-1 defeat.
In an evenly contested opening set, Panthers broke the ice in the 14th minute when an Alex Guptill goal had them in the lead at the close of the frame.
Panthers had the better share of the shot count in the 2nd with an 8-3 advantage, but Chris Carrozzi was on task and helped the visiting Spectrum contingent start the 3rd still just a goal off the pace.
Less than 5 minutes into the 3rd, Carrozzi was central to holding the gap close again when he turned aside a Luke Pither penalty shot. About 4 minutes later the Flames finally pulled the game level on the strength of a Calle Ackered strike. Unfortunately, a Guillaume Lepine goal inside the last 3 minutes broke the tie and an empty netter by Justin Kovacs finalized the score.
“It is hard to even express the frustration we are feeling right now,” said Paul Dixon.
“We were a couple of minutes from at least a point and then we go home with nothing which spells 3 games when we deserved far more than 0 points out of 6 available.”
“We certainly would have liked more to show from the busy Christmas/New Year run, but I guess all we can do now is pick ourselves up and look ahead to Sunday when Milton Keynes visit.”
“We will get some rest, get some training in and be ready to go again on Sunday.”