Belfast Giants cranking up pressure with late title surge
Fife Flyers 1-4 Belfast Giants
The Belfast Giants have turned the heat on the Cardiff Devils and Sheffield Steelers right up to the max in the fight for the Elite League title.
Derrick Walser's team stretched their winning streak to six games thanks to a 4-1 victory over the Fife Flyers last night and the knock-on effect is that they are now just three points behind the joint-leaders with six games of the season remaining - with a match in hand over the Steelers too.
The Giants dominated the game in Kirkcaldy from start to finish and goals from Mike Forney, Kris Beech (two) and Mike Radja gave them a comfortable win on a night when the big players really came to the fore.
Although it took the Giants until just 90 seconds before the end of the first period to break the deadlock, they were well on top - which was reflected in the shot count after the first 20 minutes, which read Fife 5 Belfast 17.
Indeed, it was a surprise that it took so long for the opening goal to come, but when it did it was well worth waiting for.
Fife had captain Ryan Dingle called for an interference penalty against Giants goaltender Stephen Murphy and on the subsequent powerplay, Walser and Jim Vandermeer moved forward from defence and fed Forney, who produced a sublime finish from distance for his 21st goal of the season.
The Giants were much quicker off the mark in the second period, this time taking only 56 seconds to double their lead.
Chris Higgins carved out the opportunity and he supplied the pass from which Beech netted his 22nd of the campaign.
Fife did cut the arrears 81 seconds into the second period. They had started the period on a powerplay after Darryl Lloyd had been sent to the box right at the end of the second period and they took full advantage as Nicholas Rioux and Philippe Paquet linked up and provided the opportunity which was snapped up by Michael Dorr.
It wasn't long, however, before Beech registered goal number 23. It came on another powerplay, after Kyle Horne had been punished for holding.
He was only in the box a matter of four seconds before Forney and Walser set up Beech to fire home at 44:24.
That killed any momentum that Fife might have built up after their goal and the Giants really rammed home their dominance when they scored their fourth goal of the game five minutes later.
David Rutherford was the provider this time as Radja took his goal tally for the season to 27 at 49:18.
Cardiff are the next of the three title contenders in action when they face the Nottingham Panthers at the National Ice Centre on Friday night.
They will hope to end a run of three consecutive defeats, while the Giants are at home to Braehead Clan on Saturday.