Belfast Giants stay on hot streak thanks to last-gasp strike from Higgins
Belfast Giants 3-2 Flames
Chris Higgins scored the game-winner in overtime to hand the Belfast Giants a 3-2 win over the Guildford Flames at the SSE Arena that keeps their winning streak alive at six.
Winger Higgins had a big game with the clincher and an assist, while Shields' finish with 2:10 remaining took the tie to extra innings where the hosts prevailed thanks to Higgins.
Belfast are now 6-1-0 in their last seven in all competitions, and their victory cuts the Cardiff Devils' lead at the top of the table to just a point, albeit having played a game more.
The Giants' much-improved defence set the tone early with a big penalty kill, restricting the Flames to just two shots on their only powerplay when Curtis Leonard took a roughing call after just 2:41, while their own powerplay was negated by the Flames when Brett Ferguson sat for slashing after 15:43.
Netminder Tyler Beskorowany was back to his lights out best, turning away 25 of the 27 shots he faced, however the second period started with a couple of misplays behind his own net, with Jim Vandermeer bailing him out with a block from Ben Davies.
At the other end, the Giants couldn't believe they didn't open the scoring early in the third as Darcy Murphy reacted to a rebound only for Carozzi to thrust out his stick and deflect it away.
That allowed Guildford to take advantage of Kevin Raine's defensive turnover, misplaying the puck off the boards to let John Dunbar in on Beskorowany, applying the finish at 44:30.
After going a rather meagre 0-3 in the first two periods, it was the Giants' powerplay that brought them level when it roared into life after Guildford took a too many men call.
Higgins gave the pass to Riley in the right circle and Shields applied the screen to allow the shot to beat Carozzi at 48:41.
Davies looked to have stolen the win with 5:41 remaining when he swept onto a rebound from Evan Janssen's initial shot and slid it into the gaping cage.
But the hosts refused to lie down, and it was new man Jordan Smotherman who laid the puck on a plate for Shields to level, the winger dishing the puck into the slot for the Elite League's all-time leading scorer to rip home with just 2:10 to go.
That left Higgins to snatch the game winner in overtime, coming off the left boards and driving a shot low past Carozzi to steal the two points on offer.
The two sides will do it all over again tomorrow when they play the second game of their double-header at the SSE Arena (face-off 7pm).