Belfast Telegraph

Another blank leaves Giants with it all to do in second leg

 

Clash: Matt Pelech and Cardiff Devils’ Mark Louis square up
Clash: Matt Pelech and Cardiff Devils’ Mark Louis square up
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

The Belfast Giants will have to overcome a deficit on the road in Wednesday's Challenge Cup quarter-final second leg after being shut-out 1-0 at the SSE Arena by the Cardiff Devils.

Worryingly, it's two consecutive shut-outs at home for the Giants, who were also blanked by the Sheffield Steelers at the weekend, and back-to-back losses in Belfast for Adam Keefe's goal-shy side.

Joey Martin's strike 14:25 into the first period proved the difference between the two sides, the Devils captain profiting at the tail end of a Cardiff powerplay by sniping one past Giants netminder Shane Owen from the mid-slot.

Owen was exceptional, making 22 saves across the 60 minutes, but still took the loss as Belfast found Devils backstop Ben Bowns in unbeatable form at the other end, registering 38 saves in keeping the hosts scoreless.

The Giants now haven't scored a goal in 131:23 of action, with an 0-for-5 powerplay on the night contributing to their offensive issues that have plagued them all season and now appear to have come to a head on back-to-back nights.

The problem continues to be with their finishing rather than their chance creation, with Jordan Smotherman almost giving them the lead in the first period when his shot looked to have sneaked in top shelf but, upon video review, actually came back off the crossbar.

They nearly fluked a late equaliser when a shot from David Goodwin rebounded off the backboards and off Bowns' back, and it was only down to an outrageous save from Owen in the final minute to deny Martin a second that would have really hurt them and instead keeps the deficit at just one heading into the second leg.

The Giants won't have long to lick their wounds, however, as they're back in Elite League action against the Dundee Stars tomorrow night at the Dundee Ice Arena looking to snap this horrendous offensive streak.

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