Belfast Giants' effort just fails against Cardiff Devils
Cardiff Devils 3 - Belfast Giants 2
A massive third-period effort failed to produce a stirring comeback for the Belfast Giants as they went down 3-2 to the Cardiff Devils.
The Giants may have lost for the sixth time in seven games, but the result didn't reflect the performance - certainly in the last 20 minutes.
Trailing 3-2 when the third period began, the Giants came out flying in search of a goal that would tie the game and put the Cardiff defence under pressure from the word go, with Ben Bowns in the Devils goal having to be at his best to repel the Belfast attack.
Ultimately, despite firing 14 shots on the Devils goaltender during the 20 minutes, the Giants couldn't find the net again and in the end their hugely impressive effort was in vain.
With the extra imports on the roster Kevin Saurette and Mark McCutcheon were rested and things could have been very different had Steve Thornton's men started the game the way they finished it.
Cardiff's Matthew Myers put in a big hit on Giants captain in his own zone and within seconds he had scored at the other end.
Tyson Marsh and Brent Walton created the opportunity for Myers to net his 15th goal of the season, , with just 1:43 on the clock.
Giants goaltender Carsen Chubak saved from Joey Martin a minute later, but the visitors began to get into their flow and when Markku Tahtinen's holding penalty gave them their first powerplay of the night the Belfast men took full advantage.
The Giants had just killed a tripping penalty against Evan Cheverie when Tahtinen was sent to the box and after Bowns had been tested a couple of times Colin Shields sent the puck into the middle and it was Cheverie who provided the finish.
After fighting their way back into the game the Giants then shot themselves in the foot when David Phillips and Robby Sandrock were sent to the penalty box in quick succession.
That gave the Devils a five-on-three powerplay for a full minute, but they didn't need that long to regain the lead.
In fact less than 40 seconds after Sandrock's penalty began Walton started the move, linking with Carl Hudson and they fed Joey Haddad, who fired home his 15th goal of the season.
Despite going behind the Giants were still playing with style and early in the second period Jeff Mason brought a fine save from Bowns as they pushed for an equaliser.
Then it was the Giants turn to enjoy a two-man advantage, with Tahtinen and Haddad together in the box, but the best they could do during an impressive Cardiff penalty kill was a Mike Kompon effort that went wide.
The Devils then stretched their lead with two and a half minutes of the second period to go.
Hudson and Marsh worked the opening and found Joey Martin, who skated in on Chubak and after selling him a dummy sent the puck beyond the Giants goaltender and into the net.
There was a quick response from the Giants though as within 43 seconds the deficit was reduced to a single goal again.
Sawada provided the finish for his 20th goal of the season, with Cheverie and Kompon getting the assists.
The Giants were totally dominant in a rousing third period display that saw them on top from the drop of the puck.
Bowns was under fire almost constantly, but the Giants couldn't find a way through.
Even when Chubak was pulled with almost two minutes remaining the Giants weren't able to make use of the extra skater and they ended up empty handed.