Desmarais strikes late as Giants' resilience pays off
Belfast Giants 4-3 Cardiff Devils
James Desmarais came up trumps just in time for the Belfast Giants to secure a valuable two points from a dramatic game against the Cardiff Devils.
The teams couldn't be separated inside 60 minutes as they battled out a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Odyssey Arena.
And the match seemed set for a penalty shoot-out before Desmarais pounced to strike the winner with only 18 seconds left to play.
The Giants had to come from behind three times to keep pace with the Devils, who will be left feeling that they let a point slip away.
They will get an immediate chance to avenge last night's result though, with the teams locking horns again this evening in the second-leg of the weekend double-header.
Cardiff got to work early and took the lead with just two minute on the clock.
Andrew Lord and Joey Martin linked up and provided the opportunity from which Jake Morissette gave the visitors the lead.
They were only in front for four minutes though, before a sublime piece of skill from Brandon Benedict brought the Giants level.
He collected the puck close to the boards on the left and skated round a couple of Cardiff players before making his finish look easy as he slid the puck past Ben Bowns.
The Giants' penalty kill, which had found things difficult last weekend, couldn't stop Martin from scoring on a powerplay just 34 seconds into the second period.
Colin Shields, playing his 401st game in a Giants shirt, took advantage of a defensive error to make it 2-2 at 27:59.
Another powerplay opportunity led to the Devils' third goal at 34:37, with Brent Walton finishing, before the Giants scored a powerplay goal of their own as the scores were tied again at 37:17 thanks to Mike Forney.
Neither team could find a winner in the third period and it looked like overtime was going to fail to produce a goal too until Desmarais crashed home the winner from Craig Peacock's assist at 64:42