Sheffield Steelers 4 Belfast Giants 1
Anthony DeLuca grabbed a double as the Belfast Giants lost further ground in the Elite League title race with a 4-1 loss to the Sheffield Steelers at the FlyDSA Arena.
The Steelers winger levelled things up at 6:31 of the first period after David Goodwin had put the visitors ahead with his 12th goal of the season, and then added the game-winner at just 12:49 of the second period when he finished five-hole on Giants netminder Shane Owen.
The Giants didn't help themselves, going an abysmal 0-for-6 on the powerplay, including passing up a 1:05 5-on-3 powerplay in the second period with the score at 2-1, while Tomas Duba had 29 saves for the hosts, who added insurance goals through Ben O'Connor and Brendan Connolly.
After the loss, the Giants now trail the Steelers by six points at the top of the standings with just nine games left to play, their record now sitting at 26-16-3 after a disappointing one-point weekend following their 5-4 overtime loss to the Manchester Storm on Saturday.
It was another game where the Giants were blunt offensively, managing to out-shoot their hosts 30-27 but unable to make their statistical dominance count, losing the season series 2-4-0 to their rivals.
It was excellent forechecking from Ben Lake that forced the turnover behind the Steelers net to create the Giants' opener, the centre putting the puck back in front for Goodwin to finish underneath Duba on the backhand for 1-0 at 5:17.
But the lead lasted just 1:14 as the Steelers produced an immediate response to tie it up at 1-1, Lucas Sandstrom just about keeping the puck in at the blue-line and dishing the pass to DeLuca in the right circle for the winger to snap home the one-timer past Owen, who made 23 saves on the night.
The Giants passed up three chances on their dreadful powerplay and they were made to pay when the Steelers forged ahead at 12:49 of the second period, DeLuca pinching his second of the evening when Michael Davies sent him on the breakaway and he finished five-hole on Owen for 2-1.
The Giants had a massive chance to draw level when presented with a 1:05 5-on-3 powerplay - Aaron Brocklehurst (holding) and Aaron Johnson (hooking) in the box - but they couldn't connect and still trailed at the second intermission.
And the Steelers made the result safe in the final frame, O'Connor doubling their lead 6:18 into the third when his slapshot deflected off the skate of the unfortunate Curtis Hamilton for 3-1, before Connolly wrapped things up on the breakaway with 3:57 remaining.