Keefe angry as 'rubbish' Giants shut out by Clan
Glasgow Clan 5 Belfast Giants 0
Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe described their performance as rubbish after his side lost ground in the Elite League title race with a 5-0 shutout defeat at the Glasgow Clan.
Four Clan goals in a dreadful second period for Belfast ended the game as a contest and, to add insult to injury, former Giants forward Brendan Connolly added a fifth with 5:25 remaining to send the visitors home with their tails between their legs.
The Clan exacted revenge for the Giants' two wins on Thursday and Saturday in Belfast, the former of which saw them eliminated from the Challenge Cup, as they put in a much-improved display on their home ice.
It's the first time Belfast have been shut out this season, with Clan netminder Joel Rumpel turning away all 31 shots he faced as the Giants never got any offense going.
The powerplay - which was so lethal in the two wins earlier in the week - went 0-for-5 on the night, while the Giants took seven penalties in the game which halted any momentum they had building.
The net result is that Belfast, who drop to 34-11-2, fall three points behind the Cardiff Devils in the Elite League title race, with the top two sides meeting in a massive double-header at the SSE Arena next weekend, which now looks even more important given the defending champions have a game in hand too.
"The Clan were good all night, they outworked us, outskated us and outbattled us," admitted a frustrated Keefe.
"We weren't very good in many areas, to be honest with you, so we'll just have to throw that game in the garbage because that's not a good enough effort.
"It's disappointing in the league title race to show up with that kind of effort. We have two pretty big games coming up so we have to forget it, regroup and be ready to go on Friday."
Keefe inserted Jonathan Ferland, a healthy scratch for the last two games, back into the line-up ahead of Darcy Murphy - who had a goal and three assists in the two games against the Clan in Belfast - but the offense never clicked.
Both sides saw powerplays come and go in the first period, both abbreviated when a Chris Higgins tripping minor was interrupted by Guillaume Doucet's high stick, but in the second period the third-placed Scots cut loose.
Vaclav Stupka, the dangerous Slovak winger, was the first to get on the board when he followed in his own shot and scooped up the rebound, applying the finish past Tyler Beskorowany at 3:47 into the second.
Clan captain Zack Fitzgerald led from the front when he took exception to a hit from Kevin Raine, dropping the gloves with the Giants d-man, and although it was the visitors who headed onto the powerplay, the hosts would profit from it.
Belfast rang the iron as they pressed for an equaliser, but in doing so they granted Rasmus Bjerrum a breakaway at the other end and he held his nerve for the shorthanded goal at 6:10, and that was quickly followed in by Gerard Hanson's third at 8:50, the Swedish forward getting the tip on Zach Sullivan's shot from the blue line.
Frustrations then boiled over to finish the period, Scott Pitt ensuring the hosts' lead would be four at the second intermission when he finished off a two-on-one with Stupka, which was quickly followed by Kyle Baun heading to the penalty box for an unsportsmanlike conduct call.
The Belfast powerplay, 4-for-7 across the previous two games against Glasgow, could not work Rumpel enough to get them back in the game as they got two bites at the cherry to begin the third, the Clan taking concurrent penalties for too many men and a slash called on Matt Haywood.
And Connolly piled on the misery with a powerplay strike at 15:35 of the third with Baun again off for interference, ensuring the Giants wouldn't even have the satisfaction of a flawless penalty kill to take back home.
Next up, Cardiff.