Goodwin strikes late as Belfast Giants kick off new year with victory at Stars
Dundee Stars 2-3 Belfast Giants
David Goodwin will take the plaudits for the game-winner in this one with just 2:06 remaining, but arguably Shane Owen was just as important in helping the Belfast Giants win their first game of 2020.
It was winger Goodwin who got the clincher, his snapshot beating Dundee Stars netminder Alex Leclerc from the top of the right circle at 17:54 of the final period to seal a 3-2 win for the Giants to begin the new year right.
But had it not been for a sensational stop from Owen only seconds prior on Kevin Dufour, the Giants netminder throwing out a pad to deny the Stars man what looked to be a surefire rebound goal at the crease, it could have so easily finished in the same scoreline the other way.
As it was, Goodwin's goal at the death, his fourth in his last three games, was enough to clinch a crucial two points for the Giants, who go to 18-10-2 on the season and move to five points behind Elite League leaders Sheffield Steelers in the standings.
They needed a big performance from Owen in goal, who came up with some key saves in the first period in particular in a 37-save display, while they also needed an outstanding night from their penalty kill too, which had to go 8-for-9 in an indisciplined performance from the visitors.
The most important kill was split across the second intermission, the Belfast special teams playing out a 36-second 5-on-3 powerplay for the Stars as Curtis Leonard (cross-checking) and Liam Reddox (interference), and that in turn let them mount a third period comeback to get the victory.
Trailing 2-1 at the time, Ben Lake had tied it up at 2:27 of the final frame, former Stars man Elgin Pearce forcing the turnover in the Stars' defensive zone and feeding the British international for the finish to make it 2-2, with Goodwin coming up with the goods late on.
It had been Pearce - who had a hand in all three of the Giants' goals against his former employers - who opened the visitors' account on the powerplay at 6:02 of the second period with his third for the Giants when he redirected in Curtis Hamilton's feed to the crease past Leclerc (20 saves).
The Stars had been two to the good following a dominant first period and a lightning quick start to the middle frame as well, with Matt Carter once again the Giants' tormentor-in-chief with a double to go with his goal in Monday night's game in Belfast.
The former Nottingham Panthers winger put them ahead at 18:47 of the first period, getting a redirect on Shawn Boutin's blue-line shot to take it past Owen, and followed that up with the Stars' powerplay goal 2:15 into the second period with a nice finish on the wraparound.
But from there it was Owen who came to the fore for the Giants, constantly thwarting the Dundee offense with some big stops, with a particularly big one seeing him blank Dufour for a second time when he went on a breakaway in the second period with the score then at 2-1.
The penalty problems will need addressed, with Adam Keefe's side taking nine minor penalties that left them struggling to create any momentum throughout the game and, unsurprisingly, left them chasing the game for the majority of the night.
Belfast found themselves shorthanded three times inside the first 20 minutes, taking a too many men call, followed by Brian Ward (tripping) and Elgin Pearce (holding), against his old side, also heading off.
It was Liam Morgan's high sticking call that led to Carter doubling the Scots' advantage in the middle frame, however the penalty kill was vital when stopping the Stars on that big 5-on-3 split over the middle frame.
The Giants' own powerplay ran at 1-for-3, getting them on the board when they had little momentum going in the second period after head coach Keefe called a timeout.
Belfast are back in action on Saturday and Sunday when they welcome the Coventry Blaze to the SSE Arena for a double-header, which also runs alongside the Friendship Series between the women's teams from Merrimack and Quinnipiac.
Belfast Telegraph Digital