Belfast Telegraph

Special teams, Murphy lead Belfast Giants to tense win over Fife Flyers

Fife Flyers 1-3 Belfast Giants

Kyle Baun battles against the Giants
Kyle Baun battles against the Giants
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

The Belfast Giants' powerplay is the best in the league for a reason and it proved why in Fife.

Tied at 1-1 with 3:05 remaining in the third period, Flyers defenceman Ricards Birzins took a soft slashing call and the special teams got to work for the Giants.

Leading scorer Darcy Murphy got free in the right circle, Blair Riley found him with the pass and the winger posted his 31st league goal of the season with a shortside finish over Shane Owen's shoulder.

Murphy, who added the insurance goal with 52 seconds remaining into the empty cage, had a hand in all three goals and increased his season tally to 62 points, while Kyle Baun also added two assists.

The Giants improve to 37-11-2 on the season and stay tied at the top of the Elite League standings after the Cardiff Devils also grabbed a win over the Glasgow Clan tonight.

It wasn't pretty at times, particularly in an end-to-end second period, but the penalty kill unit was on song at the Fife Ice Arena, the Giants going 3-for-3 on the man disadvantage.

And, when it mattered, the powerplay - 1-for-3 on the night - pulled through with the game-winner with 2:51 remaining.

Brett Bulmer had cancelled out Dustin Johner's opener early in the third period, and it looked like Fife might have taken the lead when Chase Schaber went on the wraparound and forced the puck over the line only for it to be waved off for the net being off its moorings.

In the end it was Murphy who proved the difference, while Tyler Beskorowany had a large hand in it as well, the netminder turning away 26 of the 27 shots he faced in the net.

The powerplay that would eventually win it for the Giants came up empty in the first period, unable to capitalise on an early penalty to Fife d-man James Isaacs, but they would lead at the first intermission.

It was Murphy who did the hard work, taking the puck down the half-boards and centring into the slot for Johner to snap home his 21st of the campaign for the lead at 14:19.

David Rutherford saw a pot shot from the high slot ring the left post early in the second, while Mike Cazzola did the same from the left circle when the Flyers broke away.

It was the Giants' penalty kill that ruled the second period, killing off consecutive penalties to Mark Garside and Jim Vandermeer, and the PK unit came through again early in the third with Garside in the box for a second time.

Bulmer levelled at 8:11 of the third for the Flyers and it looked like the Giants got away with one when Schaber forced the puck under Beskorowany only for the play to be whistled dead prior to the puck crossing the line.

That left Murphy to grab the game-winner with 2:51 left, and the winger added the empty-netter when he dispossessed the puck in the neutral zone and finished.

The Giants will hope to extend their three-game winning streak when they head to the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday night (face-off 7pm).

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