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Giants snuff out Flames to boost title hopes

Belfast Giants 7 Guildford Flames 3

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Close contact: Belfast Giants’ Patrick Mullen is challenged by Owen Griffiths

Close contact: Belfast Giants’ Patrick Mullen is challenged by Owen Griffiths

William Cherry/Presseye

Close contact: Belfast Giants’ Patrick Mullen is challenged by Owen Griffiths

The Belfast Giants rattled in strikes on three consecutive powerplays in the second period in a comprehensive 7-3 win over the Guildford Flames as they kept their title hopes alive.

In front of his family, who are in town for his 28th birthday, David Goodwin scored at 8:07 of the second with his 13th of the season, and his strike was quickly followed by further hits from Bobby Farnham at 12:08 and Liam Morgan at 13:15.

Jordan Smotherman and Elgin Pearce then added a pair of goals 11 seconds apart at the end of the period to chase Flames starter Travis Fullerton, who made 20 saves, with Wouter Peeters making 11 stops in relief but being beaten by Morgan for his second of the night and Ryan Lowney in the final period.

But by the time Peeters entered the game the damage was done, Goodwin's goal seeing him tally his fourth in as many games, along with an assist, while the Giants got a big three-point night from Pearce, who had a goal and two assists.

Adam Keefe's side improve to 27-16-3 for the season and close the gap to the Sheffield Steelers at the top of the Elite League to just four points with eight games remaining.

Guildford had actually taken the lead when Jamie Crooks stabbed in a rebound at the crease after Ben Davies hit the post with his initial shot, but after that it was all Giants.

With Jordan Rowley in the box for tripping, Goodwin levelled things up with his 13th of the campaign when he forced the turnover in the offensive zone and fired low past Fullerton to make it 1-1 at 8:07, with Farnham then getting the go-ahead goal at 12:08 when he deposited the rebound from Patrick Mullen's shot for 2-1 with Ian Watters off for hooking.

Watters' indiscipline then cost his side when he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and the Giants capitalised, Morgan grabbing his first when he found space in the slot and finished his own rebound at 13:35.

Then came the two killer goals, which arrived only 11 seconds apart, Smotherman finishing off Ward's feed back in front for the game-winner at 16:22, followed quickly by Pearce tipping in Kevin Raine's blue-line shot to make it 5-1.

Flames backstop Fullerton was pulled for the final period for Peeters, and Guildford actually pulled it back to a two-goal game when Crooks turned provider for Davies on a two-on-one breakaway to make it 5-2, and then Erik Lindhagen finished at the backdoor to make it 5-3.

But any Giants fears were doused when Morgan added his second at 13:06 of the final frame to retake their three-goal lead, and then Ciaran Long laid one on a plate for Lowney to round off the scoring with 2:11 left, capping a job well done for the hosts.

Belfast Telegraph