Belfast Giants defenceman Ryan Lowney insists the Elite League title race isn't over yet as the defending champions face another big weekend.
The Giants (21-13-2, fourth, 44pts) welcome Glasgow Clan to the SSE Arena tonight (7pm) for their 'You Can Play' game, followed by a trip to the Guildford Flames tomorrow (6pm) knowing they can ill-afford any more slip-ups in their title quest.
Adam Keefe's side are nine points adrift of leaders Sheffield Steelers (53pts), and although they have two games in hand, they have played two games more than the Cardiff Devils (46pts) and Nottingham Panthers (44pts).
But with some key games still to come for the Giants, who face the Devils in a double-header at the SSE Arena next weekend and still have a double-header against the Panthers to come in March, Lowney insists they are not throwing in the towel yet.
With 11 home games still to go, compared with just seven on the road, they are still confident they can turn things around.
"Earlier this week we took a look at where everyone stands and we feel it's a lot closer than everybody thinks. There are a lot of teams within a few points of each other," pointed out Lowney.
"Looking at our schedule, we have to start getting some wins together and picking up points. It's cliche but every game is a big game now, we can't have a night off. We need to work hard.
"(Having plenty of home games) helps us a lot. We have to use that, the energy within the rink to boost us and build our confidence. It's vital we win all 11 of those home games."
While last weekend didn't see the Giants improve in terms of results, splitting results yet again by winning in Glasgow but then falling to a defeat at Sheffield, there were green shoots of recovery in both performances.
Had it not been for conceding three powerplay goals against the Steelers, that game could have gone very differently, and there is a realisation that, if they can cut out those pesky penalty problems, they are a match for anyone five-on-five.
"I thought we played five-on-five well both nights. We had a lot of good shots on net, we possessed the puck, moved it well. It was just penalties, they don't help at all. We're keeping them to a minimum this weekend," stated Lowney. "(Glasgow) are going to come out hard after losing to us last weekend. They'll want to make up for that.
"At the same time, we have to build some confidence going into the final part of the year."
The Giants will once again be without Patrick Mullen, Rickard Palmberg - who is confirmed to be joining IK Oskarshamn at the start of next month - and Liam Reddox, who are all unavailable.
• THE Belfast Giants' Scottish National League team are back in action with two games in Scotland against the Paisley Pirates tonight and Kirkcaldy Kestrels tomorrow (both 7pm).