Giants triumph as Flames' hopes go up in smoke
Belfast Giants 2-1 Guildford Flames
A 26-save performance from Shane Owen backstopped the Belfast Giants to a 2-1 win over the Guildford Flames at the SSE Arena in the Elite League.
The goaltender needed to be at his best amid a late Flames onslaught as they sought to draw level, however the Giants held on for the two points.
Curtis Hamilton, with his team-leading seventh goal of the season, and Ben Lake got the first period goals for the hosts, who improve to 2-0-1 on the season and move up into a tie for fourth in the Elite League standings.
Defenceman Jesse Forsberg sat as the healthy scratch for Adam Keefe's side, the first of the season.
Playing in their black 20th anniversary jerseys, the Giants saw Flames netminder Travis Fullerton - 27 saves - frustrate them initially until they grabbed two quick goals to pull ahead.
The first came at 9:09 when some good work from Brian Ward behind the net allowed him to send it back out in front for Hamilton to finish at the crease.
That was followed 50 seconds later when Lake made it two, the centre playing the puck in the slot and snapping it top shelf past Fullerton to double Belfast's lead.
The British international could have easily had a second before the first intermission when he was hooked back on a one-on-one with Fullerton to earn a penalty shot, however the goaltender got the pad down to save the strike.
An uneventful second period saw its best chance come late on for the visitors when Owen bailed out his team-mates with a big save from Ben Davies as the Guildford winger went on a breakaway, preserving the two-goal lead heading into the third.
Bobby Farnham could easily have killed things off early in the final period when he was dished the puck at the back door by Liam Reddox, but the winger could only find the side netting with his shot.
The Flames did have the puck in the net as they sought a way back into the game, Jesse Craige's blue-line shot tipped in out front, only for the play to be whistled dead due to offside.
The second time they had it in the net it did count, Craige smashing in a shot from the blue-line on the 5-on-3 at 55:20 to set up a nervy finish, however the hosts would hold on for the victory despite the visitors doing all they could to force overtime.
The Giants switch back to the Challenge Cup tonight when they travel to the Dundee Stars (2-2-0) seeking their first road win of the season (face-off 7pm).