Dan the man as Belfast Giants triumph
The Belfast Giants turned the tables on the Edinburgh Capitals as they claimed an overtime victory in a thriller at Murrayfield last night.
Just 24 hours after the home side had scored a last minute equaliser before defeating the Giants in the extra five minutes, Doug Christiansen’s men scooped both points thanks to Dan Welch’s goal in the added period.
That strike, at 1.43 in overtime, made it three points out of a possible four — and a highly productive weekend — for the Giants as they extended their lead at the top of the Elite League standings to five points.
The Nottingham Panthers, who are second, picked up just one point from their two outings over the weekend, losing a shoot-out against the Hull Stingrays last night after Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Coventry Blaze.
And the Sheffield Steelers, who are in third, finished with just two points after a 7-2 thumping at the hands of Hull on Saturday before beating Braehead last night.
It was a great weekend too for the Giants latest recruit, Simon Lambert, who scored in both games against the Capitals — who he played for under Christiansen last season.
In fact last night’s game was a tale of players netting against their old clubs.
Welsh was a team-mate of Lambert’s at the Capitals last season and Edinburgh scorer Jeff Hutchins was in the Giants team under Ed Courtenay during the 2006-07 season.
Despite spending close to a full two minutes on a 5-on-3 powerplay, the Giants fired just nine shots at Scott Reid — who Christiansen has labelled ‘the best import goaltender in the league’ — during what was a quiet first period.
Stephen Murphy also faced a full minute with the Giants only having three skaters on the ice, but he was equal to anything that was thrown at him.
There was a step up from the Belfast men, backed by a large travelling support, who made their way to the Scottish capital for a pre-Christmas weekend, in the second period and one of the 14 shots they registered reached it’s desired destination — the back of the net.
Jeff Mason and Colin Shields made the play and set up Lambert to fire home his second goal in as many games in a Giants uniform.
The Giants conceded a penalty early in the third period, when they were deemed to have had too many men on the ice while changing lines — which another former Capital Ross Dalgleish served.
While he took a two minute break Chris St Jacques set up the chance for Hutchins to fire past Murphy for the equaliser.
Reid showed just why Christiansen rates him so highly when he continually kept the Giants attack at bay in the final period, in which they tested him no less than a dozen times. Frustratingly for Christiansen he was up to every one.
Neither team could find a decisive goal, which meant five minutes of extra play in the hope that a winner could be found.
And when Kyle Horne was sent to the penalty box for tripping it gave the Giants a great chance to fully punish the Capitals.
That’s exactly what they did as Mason and Mike Bayrack created the opening and Welch was on hand to fire home the winner that sent those travelling fans home with smiles on their faces.