Giants make up lost ground with comeback win over Braehead Clan
Belfast Giants 5 Braehead Clan 3
Belfast Giants closed the gap at the top of the Elite League after a hard-fought 5-3 win over Braehead Clan at the SSE Arena.
The result means that Derrick Walser''s team are now just four points behind leaders Cardiff Devils with Coventry Blaze next up on Monday at the same venue.
The Giants had beaten the Clan 5-1 on Boxing night but, since then, the Scottish side won twice, beating Edinburgh Capitals and Dundee Stars scoring 11 goals in the process.
Walser recalled team captain, Adam Keefe, who sat out the last two matches and rested forward Brandon Benedict, with goalie Stephen Murphy returning to replace Jackson Whistle, who had played in Wednesday night's defeat by Manchester Storm.
The Giants got off to the worst possible start when, after just 20 seconds, Braehead took the lead when Daniel Ahsberg tipped the puck past Murphy following a long-range shot by Lee Baldwin.
But the hosts levelled matters barely three minutes later when Clan goalie Michal Zajkowski lost possession when behind the net while under pressure from Alex Foster, whose pass was easily converted by David Rutherford.
That goal seemed to spur the Giants on and Zajkowski redeemed himself by stopping shots from Mark Garside, Colin Shields (twice), Chris Higgins and Mike Quesnele.
However the visiting goalie was beaten for a second time on 12:59 when, after some magic from Rutherford behind the net, Shields fired the puck home with a first-time shot.
But the Clan tied things up two minutes before the first intermission when former Giant, Craig Peacock scored after a swift passing move to make it 2-2.
James Desmarais got the go-ahead goal two minutes into the second period after Steve Saviano had forced a turnover and three minutes later, Alex Foster made it 4-2 with a shot from distance.
But the Clan hit back as Cody Carlson's pin-point pass left Matt Leavitt with only Murphy to beat and he did so in style with a backhand shot on 30:17.
Foster got his second of the night four minutes later after Zajkowski had fumbled Keefe's shot to make it 5-3 going into the final period.
There was no further scoring in the last 20 minutes although the Giants expertly killed a four-minute penalty after Mike Forney had been called for high-sticking with 10:40 remaining.