Saurette inspires Belfast Giants victory
Braehead Clan 2 Belfast Giants 3: New-boy Kevin Saurette struck twice as the Belfast Giants turned up the heat on the Nottingham Panthers at the top of the Elite League table.
And Colin Shields, who was also signed by Giants coach Doug Christiansen, was on target too as they beat Braehead Clan 3-2 to cut the Panthers advantage to just two points.
All three Giants goals came in the first half of the game and after that it was down to goaltender Stephen Murphy and his defence to keep Clan at bay to secure the victory.
The Giants penalty killing unit, which had caused coach Doug Christiansen a headache after they failed to kill any penalties in the last two games, came good.
Twice they snuffed out the Clan threat early in the game, when first Adam Keefe and then Brock Matheson were sent to the box.
When both teams were at full strength — as they were for the entire second half of the first period — it was the Giants who were on top.
Saurette had gone close in between the two penalties and Darryl Lloyd almost found a gap between Clan back-up goaltender Mike Will and his post as the first break loomed.
The Giants did find a breakthrough before the teams headed for the locker rooms though.
Matt Towe and Craig Peacock linked up, with the puck then being fed to Saurette and he fired it high into the net to record his fourth goal in the last three games.
And that became five in four at 26:03. Peacock was involved again, this time along with Noah Clarke and Saurette slammed home.
Colin Shields, playing in his home city of Glasgow, then piled on the pain as the Giants took control of the game.
A hooking penalty against Braehead defenceman Matt Hanson put the Giants on the powerplay for the first time in the game and within a minute Clarke and Peacock had combined again to set up Shields, who fired home his 15th goal of the season, but his first since re-signing for the Giants from the Sheffield Steelers last week.
It wasn’t to be as comfortable a victory as the Giants had hoped for though as Clan finally woke from their slumber and got onto the scoresheet.
A penalty against Mark Garside had just been killed, but only seven seconds after the Giants had returned to full strength Matt Haywood and Davide Nicoletti made the play and Ash Goldie sent the puck past Stephen Murphy to reduce the arrears.
Shields forced a fine save from Will as he attempted to score his second of the night, before the Giants ran into penalty trouble that was to prove costly.
Daymen Rycroft was followed into the box by Robby Sandrock just 35 seconds later, handing Clan a five-on-three powerplay.
The Giants three players only managed to hold out for 17 seconds before Robert Farmer scored to put his team just one goal behind.
Clan laid siege on the Giants goal in the third period in search of an equalising goal, but goaltender Stephen Murphy stood firm under pressure to protect his team’s lead.
The Giants turned things around and upped the ante, knowing that a fourth goal would knock the heart out of the home team.
First Peacock went close before Lloyd had an effort saved by Will.
In the end it didn’t matter, with Shield’s strike being enough to win the game and send the travelling Giants support back across the Irish Sea in happy mood.