Belfast Giants leave it late to see off brave Dundee
Dundee Stars 0 Belfast Giants 1 (After extra time): Doug Christiansen endured his most nervous night as Belfast Giants coach before his team emerged from Dundee with “a fantastic two points” that sent them to the top of the Elite League table.
The Giants fired 50 shots at Dundee Stars goaltender Chris Whitley, but he was only beaten by the last one as Brock McBride’s goal secured an overtime victory after a scoreless 60 minutes.
It wasn’t so much that the Giants used up all their goals for the weekend in Saturday night’s resounding 8-1 victory over the Edinburgh Capitals, it was more of a case of Whitley producing an outstanding performance to keep the forwards at bay until his stubborn resistance was finally broken by McBride, 3:46 into the additional five minutes.
The performance of the Stars’ Canadian goaltender put Christiansen through the mill, but he kept a cool head long enough to be able to have an influence on the outcome of the game himself with a key decision in overtime.
“When a game stays at 0-0 for so long and chances keep coming and going, you definitely start to wonder if it’s going to be your night,” said Christiansen.
“In the end Brock McBride and Benoit Doucet came up for us and did what they are paid to do.
“I called a time-out in overtime told them what they are paid for and put them out on the ice fresh after that.
“McBride got a deflection on Doucet’s shot, but we’re not complaining. Every time you pick up two points in this league, be it by winning 8-1 or in overtime after a 0-0- draw it is valuable.
“This is a fantastic two points for us and it’s a massive win as well.”
It wasn’t just Whitley who performed heroics. Giants goaltender Stephen Murphy holds the team record for shut-outs and he was in superb form once again to add another to his tally
He was six minutes away from blanking Edinburgh on Saturday before a late goal put a blemish on his night.
Last night he saw the job completed in a game where defences and goaltenders were on top throughout the 60 minutes before the Giants scored with the only shot of the sudden-death extra period.
Even powerplays failed to yeild goals. Each team had a massive seven opportunities to score with a numerical advantage — with Dundee even having a five-on-three for over a minute in the third period.
Without a goal to cheer, the fans were given something to lift their spirits seven minutes into the second period when Giants’ Adam Keefe and Dundee’s Brennan Turner dropped their gloves. Keefe came out marginally on top before both men took a five minute rest in the penalty box.
“Scoreless games are rare. I can’t ever recall being involved in one,” said Christiansen.
“For us to come off the back of a win over Edinburgh on Saturday night and win in Dundee after a long travel day by ferry and coach is an accomplishment.
“There is no question that both goaltenders performed very well.
“Stephen Murphy is our most valuable player and he has been the catalyst for everything that we have done so far this season.”