Belfast Giants 5 - 3 Sheffield Steelers: Giants have the edge over Sheffield
The Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers will lock horns at the Odyssey Arena for the second time in 24 hours tonight with top spot in the Elite League on the line.
The Giants produced a stunning comeback to win the first leg of the double header last night, winning 5-3 despite trailing 2-0 at the end of the first period.
They literally had to fight for the victory, with both captain Adam Keefe and defenceman Calvin Elfring going toe-to-toe with rival players in what was, at times, an ill-tempered yet thrilling contest.
And despite not scoring himself, Mike Kompon was the star of the show, playing a part in all five of the Giants' goals.
All this came after the Steelers made a dream start to the game by taking advantage of their first powerplay of the game after only two and a half minutes.
Robby Sandrock had been punished for a holding offence at 1:15 and the Steelers worked an opening through Colton Fretter and Ben O'Connor, which Dustin Kohn finished off.
Keefe was determined to get the home fans among the 5,000 crowd on their feet and traded some big blows with Sheffield's Danny Bois, before both men spent five minutes cooling off in the penalty box.
Fretter found himself taking a seat after a slashing offence, putting the Giants on a powerplay, but it was the Steelers who scored with captain Jonathan Phillips netting short handed at 11:07.
Rather than rocking the Giants, going 2-0 down sparked the team with Mark McCutcheon, Craig Peacock and Kevin Westgarth all being denied by Steelers goaltender Frank Doyle in quick succession shortly after the second goal.
And Doyle saved the Steelers seconds later when the Giants were awarded a penalty shot, making a big save from Peacock to keep the score at 2-0.
The first half of the second period had been penalty free until Jason Hewitt was punished for tripping and the Giants took full advantage as the comeback started.
Elfring and Kompon moved the puck and Evan Cheverie crashed his shot into the net at 29:11.
The Giants couldn't make use of a five-on-three powerplay, but levelled 70 seconds before the end of the second period when Cody Brookwell equalised with a superbly struck slapshot from the blueline.
There was still more to come before the end of the second period though as it ended with Elfring and Fretter trading blows as the decibel level in the building rose even further.
It was then game-on as the third period got under way and the next goal was always going to have a significant impact on the game.
It came the way of the Giants, again on a powerplay.
This time Jonathan Phillips was in the box and Kompon combined with Colin Shields to set up the chance as Elfring finished for his fourth goal of the season at 48:10.
Sheffield's Rod Sarich then clashed with Kevin Phillips as he tried to change the momentum of the game, but it was the Giants who scored next to take a two-goal lead.
Kompon linked with Ray Sawada and Sandrock produced a trademark finish - again on a powerplay - at 53:37.
The Steelers weren't quite finished as within a minute O'Connor had pulled one back and they pulled goaltender Doyle with a minute to go in an attempt to score an equaliser.
That wasn't to be though as Peacock fired into the empty net to ensure that the game was won in regulation time.