Belfast Giants' comeback begins now, says Christiansen
Nottingham Panthers 6 Belfast Giants 1: Doug Christiansen is demanding a positive response from his Belfast Giants team after suffering a 6-1 hammering to Elite League leaders Nottingham.
And he wants that to come immediately, when the Giants face the Hull Stingrays in a Challenge Cup quarter-final clash at the Hull Arena tonight.
The Panthers fired home five goals in a whirlwind eight-minute period to effectively win the game, after the Giants had taken a first-period lead and there was no way back for the Belfast men.
Two more goals in the third period rubbed salt into the wounds and helped the Panthers move two points clear at the top of the Elite League table, after the Giants had drawn level when they beat the Cardiff Devils 4-1 at the Odyssey on Friday evening.
“I think it’s a good thing that we have another game so quickly,” said Christiansen.
“It gives us an opportunity to focus on what’s in front of us rather than looking back and we’ll be looking for another victory in another competition.
“It’s a difficult schedule playing three games in four nights, but that’s not an excuse and we have to respond.”
There was nothing wrong with how the Giants started the game, taking the lead at 7:21, when captain Adam Keefe scored short-handed in just 11 seconds as Daymen Rycroft served the first penalty of the game.
When David Phillips was hit with the first penalty of the second period Nottingham exacted full punishment as Bruce Graham struck the equaliser at 22:37.
That goal gave the Panthers a real jump and eight minutes later they were 4-1 in front.
David Ling put them in front at 26:42 before they hit the Giants with two short-handed goals of their own.
Eric Werner scored at 28:21 while Pat Galivan was off the ice and former Giant Brandon Benedict notched the fourth as Guillaume Lepine took an enforced break.
Christiansen immediately called a time-out in an effort to rally his troops, but there was to be no comeback.
Jason Beckett’s goal at 44:27 was followed by Matthew Myers finding the net on a powerplay at 53:40 as the Panthers strolled to victory.
With Robby Sandrock injured and Jeff Mason suspended for three matches having been thrown out of Friday’s game for a check to the head of an opponent, shortly after scoring, the Giants are missing two key defencemen, but Christiansen isn’t going to use that as an excuse.
“For a period of seven to 10 minutes in the second period we deviated from our game plan and it crippled us,” said Christiansen.
“Nottingham are an excellent team, they possess phenomenal offence and we’ve seen it before.
“When you are down two of the best defencemen in the league it’s tough, but that’s not why we lost the game. We lost the game because we made mistakes that are uncharacteristic of the Belfast Giants.”