Raine shines as Giants douse Blaze to go joint top
Coventry Blaze 3 Belfast Giants 6
Defenceman Kevin Raine scored twice as the Belfast Giants made it six wins in a row by defeating the Coventry Blaze 6-3 at the SkyDome.
Raine made it three goals in as many games with his brace, tying his season-best tally as a professional after just 23 matches, while Paul Swindlehurst, Ben Lake, Patrick Mullen and Jordan Smotherman also netted in the victory.
Although he didn't score himself, forward Brian Ward had a sensational night with four assists, while netminder Shane Owen bounced back from a rough first period, which saw the two sides hit seven goals between them, as he made 33 saves across the 60 minutes. The Giants' exceptional penalty kill kept them in it in the second period.
After starting the season with no wins from their first eight matches outside of Belfast, the Giants have now won their last three away games as they improved to 8-1-2 in the league and drew level with the Sheffield Steelers at the top of the Elite League standings.
The Giants pulled ahead after just 2:57 when Raine ripped in his first of the evening. However, Blaze winger David Broll notched a quick double at 6:12 and 8:15 to put the hosts ahead, firing home past Owen for the first and tipping in Matt Pohlkamp's pass for the second.
Swindlehurst pulled the Giants level again at 10:41 when he hammered in a one-timer, and then Raine grabbed his second to move the visitors ahead at 13:33.
The Giants' lead lasted just 29 seconds, however, with Pohlkamp tying it up again when he banked a pass off the skate of Raine that beat an unfortunate Owen. But the Giants did head in at the first intermission ahead when Lake poked in a rebound at 18:52 to make it 4-3.
After the seven-goal thrills of the first period, it was somewhat ironic that the second period was scoreless, with Coventry's Jamie Phillips the busier of the two netminders.
Ward and Bobby Farnham both had early chances that the Blaze goalie needed to save, while at the other end Owen made a big stop to deny Luke Ferrara's snapshot.
It was in the third period where the Giants sealed it though, with Mullen grabbing a powerplay goal at 47:02 when he fired in from the mid-slot.
And Smotherman ensured the victory when he finished at 49:03 to make it 6-3, with that signalling the end of Phillips' night, the netminder replaced by Jordan Hedley.
Owen then capped off a fine night by saving Andrew Johnston's penalty shot late on, getting low to block.
The Giants head to the Nottingham Panthers (5-7-1, 11pts) next weekend for a big away double-header, starting on Saturday.