Hull Stingrays 3 Belfast Giants 2: There was a sting in the tail for the Belfast Giants last night as they saw what looked to be a comfortable a 2-0 lead disappear before going down in overtime to the Hull Stingrays.
The Stingrays were just 24 seconds from losing the game before levelling and then going on to nick the victory in the most dramatic circumstances.
And with the Nottingham Panthers grabbing a late victory in Newcastle the Giants lead at the top of the Elite League table has been cut to three points.
Although the Panthers can now overhaul the Giants if they are successful in their two games in hand, taking three points from a possible four over the weekend is a positive return for Doug Christiansen’s men.
It had all started so well for the Giants, who arrived in Humberside on the back on a 5-3 win over the Braehead Clan on Saturday night.
Just a couple of seconds before the halfway point of the first period — and from one of the first shots of the game — the Belfast men took the lead.
Mike Bayrack and Brad Smyth created the opportunity and Josh Prudden was on hand to force the puck over the line from just in front of the pipe.
The Giants then rained in the shots on the Hull goal in the second period. Nineteen were counted in the space of 20 minutes, but they only managed to find the net with one of them — and even then it was unexpected.
Smyth was deemed to have been guilty of a hooking offence and was sent to the penalty box. as Hull attacked the play was broken up and between them Jon Gleed and Brett Hemingway combined to send Bayrack through on goal to double the advantage.
It was a more fired up Hull side that came out for the third period. During the 20 minutes they out-shot the Giants 15 to 8 and with that kind of pressure it was no surprise that they got back into the game with just over 10 minutes to go.
Kurtis Dulle and Matt Davies linked up, presented Jereme Tendler with the goalscoring chance and he fired his 17th goal of the season so far past Stephen Murphy.
Hull went for broke with 40 seconds of the game remaining, pulling goaltender Christian Boucher — and it was a move that paid off handsomely.
Tendler was involved again, combining with Jason Silverthorn and Sylvain Cloutier finished the move.
The Giants could only muster two shots in overtime to Hull’s five and with a shoot-out looming large on the horizon Silverthorn collected the puck and struck the winner with just 39 seconds of play to go.