The Genting Casino Coventry Blaze were beaten for the second night in a row by the title chasing Cardiff Devils, 3-7 at Skydome Arena.
Seeking to rebound from a disappointing night in South Wales on Boxing Day, the Blaze came out with real intent but a mistake on their powerplay put them behind early as Cole Sanford capitalised on a turnover to make it 0-1 at 11.06.
With 5.02 remaining in the first period, the Devils went two ahead through Ryan Barrow, but the Blaze responded immediately when Kobe Roth’s back hand effort alluded Ben Bowns in the Cardiff goal just eleven seconds later.
Roth’s strike re-ignited the large Skydome crowd, and the Blaze fed off the noise to equalise at 18.34.
Kim Tallberg was the scorer, re-directing a James Shearer shot into the net to make it 2-2 after 20 minutes.
Just a couple of minutes into the second (22.02), Coventry took a lead when Jack Hopkins fed David Clements on a two-on-one and the home-grown defenceman finished neatly past Bowns for 3-2.
Blaze got themselves into penalty trouble just ahead of the half-way mark and while on a 5-on-3, the Devils were able to tie the game again with Sanford bagging his second of the night at 29.47.
Much to the ire of the home fans, Coventry were given a further penalty towards the end of the second period and again Cardiff took advantage with Cole Ully shooting past Taran Kozun for 3-4 at 36.57.
A flipped pass from their own zone then landed kindly for Josh Waller to double Devils’ advantage again at 37.32 and his goal saw Coventry make a goalie change for the second night running with Nolan Kent replacing Kozun.
Frustrated by the calls against his side, associate Captain Ian McNulty dropped the gloves with Tyler Busch and the two had a spirited bout with less than a second remaining in the middle period which ended with the Devils 3-5 up.
McNulty was assessed a ten-minute instigator penalty and thrown from the game for abuse of officials.
Without one of their talisman, Coventry continued to compete in attempt to get back into the game but their task became even more the difficult when Sanford completed his hat-trick at 47.21.
Jamie Arniel completed the Devils’ victory with 7.34 remaining, making it 3-7 and keeping them hot on the heels of the Elite League leaders Sheffield Steelers.
Photo credit: Scott Wiggins