Belfast Giants show star quality
Dundee Stars 1 Belfast Giants 4: The Belfast Giants showed their strength of character once again last night as they had to come back from a goal down to claim victory for the second game in succession.
There wasn't as much drama in the 4-1 win in Dundee compared to Friday night's success against the Cardiff Devils at the Odyssey Arena — when they came from behind twice — but the two points are just as important.
And with the Nottingham Panthers winning at home to Hull, the win for the Giants — thanks to goals from Graeme Walton and Tom Dignard in the second period and a third period double from Robert Dowd — was vital in order to maintain their three point advantage at the top of the Elite League table.
Now the Giants have a run of five successive home outings at the Odyssey.
Coach Doug Christiansen will be demanding a maximum haul of points so that the chasing pack, which also includes the Sheffield Steelers, can be kept at arm’s length.
The chance of collecting maximum points was put under threat during the first period of last night's game when Dundee flew out of the traps like a greyhound and took the lead.
Jarrett Konkle claimed the assist as AJ MacLean fired the puck past Stephen Murphy to open the scoring with 16 minutes registered on the clock.
The Giants huffed and puffed and battled through a full 21 minutes of play without being able to find an equaliser, despite Dundee goaltender Chris Whitley facing a fair degree of rubber.
The Giants finally did level matters 17 minutes into the second period of play as Walton continued his recent purple patch in front of goal.
Enjoying his role as a makeshift winger, the in-form and confident Walton struck after being set up by Adam Keefe to record his third goal in the last month.
Within two minutes the revitalised Giants stormed in front as Dignard — who struck the winner against Cardiff on Friday night — came up with another important goal just 27 seconds before the end of the second period.
Only three penalties were handed out during a very tame and uninspiring match and after being happy to kill the first awarded against them the Giants turned the tables and extended their lead when short handed for the second time in the game.
George Awada was having an enforced two minute break when Darryl Lloyd sent the puck up the ice to Dowd who finished for his 11th goal of the season.
There was still 14 minutes remaining at that stage, but it wasn't until right at the death that the Giants put a gloss on the important victory.
Hoping that they could force overtime, Dundee pulled Whitley, but the move backfired and Dowd netted again, with Lloyd and Jeff Mason also involved in the move, to make sure of the two points with just 33 seconds remaining.
After a post-Christmas slump inflicted what in the end was irreparable damage to the Giants title quest last season, Christiansen can now reflect on three wins in the last eight nights with satisfaction.
He will, however, be more concerned with looking forward to those upcoming games with the Elite League title the ultimate target for the season and the first of those matches is a return meeting with Dundee at the Odyssey on Saturday night.
Revenge will be on the minds of Dundee but the Giants need to stick to the winning habit.