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Belfast Giants fall to back-to-back defeats as Bouchard leads Dundee Stars to victory

Dundee Stars 6-4 Belfast Giants

By Adam McKendry

The Belfast Giants suffered back-to-back defeats as Francois Bouchard's hat-trick led the Dundee Stars to a 6-4 win at the Dundee Ice Arena.

After losing on Sunday to the Sheffield Steelers, the league-leading Giants were looking to get back to winning ways, however they ran into an in-form Stars side and paid the price for being off their game.

Missing regular netminder Tyler Beskorowany, it was backup Stephen Murphy called into action but he wasn't given much protection behind a struggling defense in front, with Bouchard scoring three two-on-one opportunities.

A bright start from the Stars saw Charles Corcoran be the first to test either netminder, with Murphy covering up well, however it was the Giants who went ahead at 6:54 when Jonathan Ferland scored on a delayed penalty.

However, the lead was short lived and Dundee levelled at 7:47 when Shawn Boutin was on hand to scoop in a rebound after Lukas Lundvald's shot was saved by Murphy.

Although the period was fairly even, most of the chances fell to the Giants, with David Rutherford and Kendall McFaull coming closest to scoring, while at the other end Fabrizio Ricci nearly poked in at the crease when the Stars went on a five-on-three.

But after all of Belfast's dominance, Dundee went ahead 2:30 into the second period, Corcoran and Francois Bouchard going on the two-on-one and the latter finishing nicely.

However, the Giants struck back at 28:04 shorthanded when Dustin Johner intercepted a pass and then beat Connor Cox to the puck, outmuscling the d-man and then firing past Sjogren.

And then same man added the third at 32:30, this time on the powerplay, forcing a rebound in that Sjogren so nearly kept out.

The Giants and they nearly had a fourth when a defender did extremely well to stop the puck was inches from the line, and instead the Stars levelled again at 37:43 in almost identical circumstances to their second, this time Lundvald providing the pass for Bouchard's finish.

With mere seconds remaining in the period, Rutherford passed up a glorious chance to send the Giants in at the second intermission ahead when he and Blair Riley went on a two-on-one only to fan on the shot.

They would pay for that wastefulness as the Stars took full control of the game after the restart with two quick goals.

Brian Hart got the fourth at 45:09 with a great finish from the slot past a partially unsighted Murphy before Matt Marquardt added a fifth at 46:01 with a deflection at the crease.

It should have been a one-goal game with just over ten minutes to play when a rebound dropped straight to McFaull at the backdoor, he fed Josh Roach at the opposite post completely open but somehow his shot missed the gaping cage.

And within seconds it was a three-goal game instead as Bouchard completed his hat-trick with yet another two-on-one opportunity at 50:15 leaving Murphy no chance of making the stop.

With time ebbing away, Belfast started to apply all of the pressure and they were finally rewarded at 55:50 when a scrappy play saw the puck forced to the backdoor and Riley somehow forced it under the sprawling Sjogren.

It was all Giants to finish the game too as they desperately sought two goals to send the game to overtime, however they never found them, with Francis Beauvillier's shot beating Sjogren marginally after the final buzzer to further compound their frustrations.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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