Panthers pounce to close gap on Belfast Giants
Belfast Giants 2 Nottingham Panthers 3: Doug Christiansen admitted that there were flaws in the Belfast Giants’ performance as they suffered defeat for the first time in 2012.
The Nottingham Panthers’ 3-2 win in Belfast on Saturday, followed by last night’s home victory against Fife, saw them close the gap on the Giants at the top of the Elite League table to five points.
With a third of the season now remaining Christiansen believes that the seven games his team faces against the Panthers and third-placed Sheffield between now and the end of March will have a telling impact on the title race.
“We made critical errors, if you do that against good teams you expect they will punish you and Nottingham did,” said Christiansen.
“We did have chances, but we didn’t take them and in the end we didn’t play well enough to overcome Nottingham.
“We have guys who we need to have an impact in our big games and our big moments.
“That’s when we look to our forwards to perform and we didn’t get goals from them against Nottingham.”
Instead if was Adam Keefe — who wasn’t signed for his goals — who levelled after three minutes following Sami Ryhanan’s opener just 66 seconds into the game.
David Clarke’s powerplay strike just two seconds from the end of the first period and Danny Myers second period strike had Nottingham in the driving seat.
Although the Giants threatened to make a comeback when Craig Peacock struck with nine minutes left on the clock, Nottingham outshot the Belfast men during the closing 20 minutes and could have won by a higher scoreline.
Possibly the biggest loss for the Giants, however, is Darryl Lloyd, who has been ruled out for four to six weeks after picking up an injury on Saturday night.
“I don’t think the result does too much in terms of the title, but it probably means now that we have to go to Nottingham for a double-header in three weeks time looking for at least one win and probably two,” said Christiansen.