Belfast Telegraph

Giants edge closer to top of league after tense triumph

Belfast Giants 6 Fife Flyers 4

By Stuart McKinley

Double strikes from three different players saw the Belfast Giants hit the Fife Flyers for six and cut the gap between them and the Cardiff Devils at the top of the Elite League table to five points.

David Rutherford, Jonathan Ferland and Steve Saviano each scored twice, but after opening up a 4-0 lead the Giants made hard work of things, allowing Fife to claw the scoreline back to 4-3 with three goals in less than four minutes.

Despite surviving that scare it wasn't until Ferland's empty-net goal 48 seconds from the end that the 6-4 victory was secured against a Fife team that gave as good as they got for most of the 60 minutes.

The Giants did threaten to open the scoring on a couple of early powerplays and they finally broke the deadlock when Evan Bloodoff was sent to the penalty box at 12:26.

The Flyers penalty kill almost did its job but Saviano picked up a loose puck and found Rutherford on his own with the goal right in front of him and he scored one of the easiest goals of his career at 14:05.

It was Rutherford who was on the mark again when the Giants doubled their lead at 18:12. This time Blair Riley and Ryan Martinelli were the architects of the move, giving Rutherford the simple task of beating Andy Iles in the Fife goal.

The Giants tightened their grip almost exactly on the 25-minute mark when Ferland scored, with Martinelli again key in the move.

It looked like it was game over when the Giants scored their fourth at 33:32. This time Martinelli was in the penalty box when Saviano set up Ferland and when his shot was stopped Saviano mopped up the rebound.

With nothing to lose Fife threw caution to the wind and an unexpected revival was sparked when Bloodoff struck just 21 seconds later at 33:53.

Boosted by that goal the Flyers took just two more minutes to score again through Charlie Mosey and things got really interesting when Bloodoff scored his second of the night at 37:27.

The Giants thought they had stemmed the comeback when Martinelli dug the puck out from the boards behind the net and Saviano forced it over the line to make it 5-3 at 44:39, but the Flyers weren't finished there.

The deficit was again cut to just a single goal again when Ricards Birzins netted on a five-on-three at 47:21 while Ferland and Dustin Johner sat in the penalty box.

Ironically it was those two players who put an end to Fife's hopes of taking the game into overtime when Johner pushed the puck to Ferland for him to fire into the empty net at 59:12 after Iles had been pulled.

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