Late four-goal salvo sinks Belfast Giants as Steelers run riot in Sheffield
Sheffield Steelers 5-1 Belfast Giants
The Belfast Giants were handed a lesson in clinical finishing as they went down 5-1 to the Sheffield Steelers despite dominating large parts of the game.
The teams were locked at 1-1 with just nine minutes of the game to go after Jesse Schultz and Colin Shields had traded second-period goals.
The Steelers then scored four times in the space of just eight minutes to claim an emphatic victory - but not one that reflected the previous 50 minutes.
The Giants, who were without the injured pair of Alex Foster and David Rutherford, had the better of the opening period, but they couldn't find a way past Steelers goaltender Ervins Mustukovs, even on a couple of powerplays.
Sheffield made the Giants pay for their failure to turn those opportunities into goals when they grabbed the lead 66 seconds into the second period.
Andreas Valdix and Schultz skated in on the Giants goal on an odd-man rush after being sent clear by Mike Ratchuk. Valdix found Schultz in space and was able to pick his spot and beat Jackson Whistle.
The Giants reacted by beating a path towards the Steelers goal, while only allowing the home side three more shots in the second period, but it took until the 18th minute before they struck the equalising goal.
Brandon Benedict moved the puck to Mark Garside and his pass found Shields on his own in front of the net and he fired the puck high into the net over Mustukovs' shoulder.
That set up an exciting final 20 minutes and, after a tight first half of the period, the Steelers took full control of the game.
Their lead was restored on a powerplay at 51:04 as Ryan Martinelli sat in the penalty box. Schultz's shot somehow squirmed past Whistle despite not being particularly well struck.
That sparked a goal-rush and three minutes later Zack Fitzgerald and Valdix created the chance from which Guillaume Desbiens made it 3-1.
Any hopes that Giants had of getting something out of the game disappeared when Sheffield scored their fourth at 55:41 when Colton Fretter and Mathieu Roy set up Christoffer Njorklund.
The Giants had just survived a full minute killing a five-on-three and were only 16 seconds away from seeing off the second of those penalties when Tyler Mosienko and Robert Dowd combined and Valdix tapped home the fifth.