Incredible comeback sees Belfast Giants secure victory over Clan
Belfast Giants 5-4 Glasgow Clan
Five unanswered goals from the Belfast Giants saw them fight back from three goals down to secure a simply stunning 5-4 win over the Glasgow Clan at the SSE Arena.
Having fallen behind to three goals from the Clan inside the opening half an hour, the Giants mounted a sensational comeback thanks to a brace of goals each from David Rutherford and Dustin Johner, three of which were on the powerplay.
A further powerplay strike from Darcy Murphy had the hosts home and dry, with Michal Gutwald's late goal for the visitors only consolation as Belfast held on for an unbelievable comeback win to take them three points clear at the top of the Elite League standings.
Glasgow's Joel Rumpel was the first of the two netminders to be called upon when he made a brilliant reaction save as the puck fell to Patrick Dwyer at the left circle, the Canadian goalie going post to post to make the pad stop.
But with virtually their first attack of the game, the Clan took the lead, some nice interplay between the forwards letting Guillaume Doucet in on Tyler Beskorowany and his shot was tipped in at 8:13 by Craig Peacock.
In a period dominated by the Giants, they could have easily tied things up when Darcy Murphy couldn't force home a wraparound with Rumpel stranded, while Curtis Leonard did find the net as time expired, however the refs ruled it hit the twine after the buzzer sounded.
The crowd were incensed by the decision, correct as it was, and their mood didn't improve when Glasgow doubled their lead 36 seconds into the second period, Travis Ehrhardt centring the puck for Gerard Hanson to finish at the back door.
Rumpel made a brilliant stop to deny Rutherford on a breakaway with Blair Riley, producing the pad save when the winger went backhand, before Beskorowany blanked former Giant Brendan Connolly when the Clan went on the powerplay.
Glasgow then came close to a third when Vaclav Stupka rang the iron before they did make it a hat-trick of unanswered goals, Matt Stanisz's shot from the blueline trickling through Beskorowany's five-hole and over the line at 28:17.
That prompted a response from Belfast or, more specifically, Jim Vandermeer, who dropped the gloves with Clan defenceman Tyson Wilson to spark the hosts into life, however it was still Beskorowany on red alert as he denied Matt Beca and Rasmus Bjerrum on breakaways.
But with two late powerplays in the second period, the hosts made it a one-goal game.
The first strike came at 36:19, Patrick Dwyer's excellent zone entry and pass to Rutherford seeing the forward beat Rumpel shortsided for the opener, before Josh Roach's shot from the high slot was tipped in by Johner to make it 3-2 at 39:33.
Both sides had brilliant scoring chances at the start of the second, Beskorowany saving well from Peacock in the slot before Johner somehow failed to level the game on the powerplay when his backhand missed an empty net.
However, Belfast were not to be denied their third powerplay goal and the game was tied at 46:59 when Rutherford notched his second of the game, taking the puck on the wraparound and roofing it on the backhand.
And an incredible comeback was complete at 47:32 when the Clan couldn't keep hold of the puck in their own zone, allowing Dustin Johner to skate onto it at pace and pick his spot for the beautiful wrist shot finish low to Rumpel's blocker side.
It was nearly five shortly after too, Kyle Baun getting the redirect on a Kevin Raine shot out in front only to see it come back off the post and ricochet away, and Jonathan Ferland then struck the crossbar with his shot.
The visitors, having seen their three goal lead wiped out and now behind on the scoreboard, self-imploded, with Travis Ehrhardt being thrown out of the game for a misconduct penalty after taking two needless calls.
And that set up the game-clinching fifth goal on that powerplay at 56:25, Murphy getting the puck in the right circle and ripping a one-timer past Rumpel, which was celebrated with an emphatic fist pump.
However, the game was not yet won, and after Beskorowany made another big stop from Guillaume Doucet out in front, Gutwald made it interesting with 34 seconds remaining when he fired home five-hole to make it a one-goal game again.
But there wasn't enough time left for the Clan to find a leveller of their own, leaving a very relieved Adam Keefe to watch in satisfaction as his side celebrated a hard-fought comeback victory.
Man of the Match: #9 Jim Vandermeer
Belfast Telegraph Digital