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Coventry Blaze 2-5 Belfast Giants: Giants cut lead at top with Blaze win

By Stuart McKinley

Published 04/01/2016

The Belfast Giants took full advantage of other results going their way to not only move clear into second place in the Elite League table, but cut the Cardiff Devils lead at the top to just three points.

And with three games in hand the Giants are now right on the tale of the Welsh club.

While Derrick Walser's men were following up Saturday night's 6-3 victory over Blaze in Belfast by winning 5-2 in their return meeting in Coventry, both Cardiff and the Sheffield Steelers were losing in Scotland.

Cardiff suffered a 3-1 defeat against Braehead Clan, just 24 hours after losing to the Dundee Stars, while the Steelers were beaten 4-3 in Edinburgh.

While the 5-2 scoreline may suggest that the Giants had a comfortable win in Coventry, it wasn't until the third period that they took control of the game.

Both teams had early chances before the Giants took the lead on their first powerplay of the game. After a period of intense pressure Mike Radja beat Brian Stewart at his near post at 7:32.

Mike Forney took a coat of paint off the Blaze crossbar soon after and Stewart made an excellent save to keep the score down while Blaze were on a powerplay.

The Giants were still looking like the team most likely to add to the scoring in the second period, but Coventry began to come into the game and they also hit the pipework through Cale Tanaka.

A kneeing penalty against Darryl Lloyd put Blaze on a powerplay, but it was 13 seconds after the Giants returned to full strength that Brett Richardson scored at 35:27.

The goal gave Blaze confidence and they grew stronger towards the end of the second period, with the Giants glad to hear the hooter.

Whatever message Walser gave to his players in the dressing room certainly had an impact as the Giants took total control in the final period, scoring four times.

Walser was credited with the goal that put the Giants 2-1 up on a powerplay at 45:31, but the puck had come off Stewart before going into the net off Coventry defenceman James Isaacs.

Stewart made the initial save again before Adam Keefe swept home the rebound to make it 3-1 at 48:38.

The Giants saw off two short five-on-three spells before Chris Higgins netted their fourth at 55:59.

Coventry threatened to make a fist of things when Jordan Pietrus netted 12 seconds later, but Walser put the issue beyond doubt when he scored a powerplay goal with 19 seconds to go.

 

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