Belfast Giants 3-1 Fife Flyers
Liam Morgan came up with the game-winner 5:45 from time as the Belfast Giants rode a 34-save display from netminder Shane Owen for a 3-1 win over the Fife Flyers at the SSE Arena.
Mere seconds after Fife netminder Adam Morrison - 39 saves - made a sensational sprawling stop to deny Matt Pelech on a two-on-one, the Giants got the crucial strike, Elgin Pearce holding in the crease and feeding the onrushing Morgan for the finish for his 14th goal of the season.
Winger David Goodwin took his personal tally to 15 for the season and extended his scoring streak to five consecutive games with a two-goal night, netting the opener on the powerplay - which ran at 1-for-2 on the night - at 13:58 of the opening period before wrapping things up 1:20 from time with an empty-netter.
The Giants also got a two-point night from captain Matt Pelech, while at the other end Owen was exceptional in turning away 34 of the 35 shots on his net as the Giants improve to 28-16-4 on the campaign and claw back some ground in the Elite League title race.
Also key to Belfast's success was an impressive 3-for-4 penalty kill which, although it gave up the Flyers' only goal of the night to Carlo Finucci in the first period, came up big in the final frame to keep the visitors at bay when it was still a one-goal game.
The first period had been a tale of two powerplay goals as the sides went in level at the first intermission having traded successful special team spells.
The Giants had been ahead when James Isaac was pinged for holding the stick, Goodwin extending his scoring streak at 13:58 when he fired in the angled rebound off Curtis Hamilton's initial shot for his 14th goal of the season.
But the visitors pulled level when Kevin Raine was sent to the box for a questionable interference call and, when Owen couldn't handle Paul Crowder's shot, Finucci was quickest to react to the loose puck to make it 1-1 with 1:02 until the intermission.
If the first period was fairly uneventful, then the second was even more so, with the action limited at both ends to two Giants penalty kills, playing out a Raine high sticking minor and Ryan Lowney's cross-checking call.
Fife nearly lost netminder Morrison to an innocuous looking injury when he needed treatment after stopping a shot from the blue-line, and then they did lose Jordan Buesa for the rest of the period after the young forward was checked off the puck to no penalty.
The two sides did head in level at the second intermission after a scoreless middle frame, although Bobby Farnham perhaps should have done better after he seized on a Morrison misplay behind the net but couldn't force it into the empty net as the Flyers scrambled around the play.
Patrick Mullen thought he might have the go-ahead goal early in the third when he walked in from the left circle and cranked one off the bar and away, with the video review confirming that the shot hadn't snuck in and out off the back bar instead.
At the other end, Finucci thought he might have his second of the game, and a winner for the visitors, when he went on the clean breakaway, only to be denied by a massive stop from Owen, who thrust out a pad to deflect the puck to safety.
And that prefaced Morgan's winner, the winger set up beautifully by Pearce for the finish, and when Goodwin slid in the empty-netter with 1:20 remaining for the shorthanded tally after the Giants' penalty kill came up huge, that was game over.
NEXT UP: The Giants are back in action next Friday (7pm) in the first of a double-header against title rivals the Nottingham Panthers at the SSE Arena.