Goodwin's late winner edges Giants closer to top
Dundee Stars 2-3 Belfast Giants
They left it late, but the Belfast Giants kicked off the new year with a big road win as they emerged from the Dundee Ice Arena with a 3-2 victory over the Dundee Stars.
David Goodwin will take the plaudits for the game-winner in this one with just 2:06 remaining, but arguably net-minder Shane Owen was just as important in helping the Giants bounce back to winning ways after Monday's loss to the same opponents.
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 the win, but had it not been for a sensational stop from Owen only seconds prior on Stars forward Kevin Dufour, when he threw 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, 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 table with two games in hand.
They needed a big performance from Owen, who came up with some key saves in the first period in particular in a 37-save display, while they were also indepted to an outstanding night from their penalty kill too, which had to go 8-for-9 in what was 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) both sat in the box, and that let them mount a third period comeback.
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.
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.
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 Dundee with some big stops, with a particularly big one seeing him blank Dufour again when he went on a breakaway in the second period with the score sat 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 contest for the majority of the night, although on this occasion they were able to pull through.
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.