Panthers bite back against Belfast Giants
Belfast Giants 2 Nottingham Panthers 2 (The Panthers won 2-1 on pens): Simon Lambert rescued a point for the Belfast Giants last night.
There was, however, to be no repeat of last Friday's penalty shoot-out victory over the Nottingham Panthers.
Instead the Panthers turned the tables on Doug Christiansen's side by taking the extra point, with David Beauregard getting the decisive goal in the shoot-out after the Giants had been 1-0 ahead in the penalty competition through Colin Hemingway.
That was the only successful shot the Giants could manage though and with Billy Ryan and Beauregard scoring for the Panthers it’s three points each from the first two meetings in a three-game series.
They will do battle at the Odyssey Arena again tonight when one team has to come out on top.
The Giants would probably have settled for a point eight minutes from the end when Nottingham led 2-0, but this is a team that pays attention to the Winston Churchill quote ‘never, never never give up' that hangs above the locker room door.
Beauregard had given Nottingham the lead in the 14th minute and they used a powerplay opportunity to full effect to double the advantage shortly after the midway point of the game through Rob Bellamy.
A clearance from behind the Giants red line that failed to make it out of their defensive zone was pounced on by the Panthers. The initial shot hit the outside of Stephen Murphy's right hand post and Bellamy reacted quickest to force the puck home.
The Giants were rocking and when Colin Shields' stick broke as he attempted to play the puck forward from centre ice he ended up desperately clamouring for it with his hands to prevent a one-on-one. Fortunately for him Murphy stood tall to make the save.
Suddenly though all the play was in the Nottingham zone. One powerplay came and went without real sustained pressure being put on Craig Kowalski. It was with the teams at even strength that the Giants began to dominate. The puck was bouncing off everything, but just wouldn't go into the net.
Everything the Giants had went into the third period effort and again shot after shot was fired towards Kowalski.
Mark Garside set up an exciting finish as he finally broke the Nottingham resistance, but his shot only just made it over the line as Kowalski failed to get enough of his body behind the puck to stop if from going into the net.
Then, with only 20 seconds left Bellamy was sent to the penalty box for slashing.
Before play got going again Matt Myers joined him for delaying the face-off three times.
With Stephen Murphy pulled the Giants had six skaters against three and when Brandon Benedict dragged the puck back to Simon Lambert he crashed it into the net.
The excitement didn't end there, but the Giants will want both points tonight with entertainment secondary.