Belfast Telegraph

Blaze of glory a long shot for Belfast Giants

Edinburgh Capitals 4 Belfast Giants 3

By Stuart McKinley

The Belfast Giants have missed a massive opportunity to apply maximum pressure on Coventry Blaze in the Elite League title chase.

And Steve Thornton’s men have all but blown their chances of pipping Blaze to the crown.

Coventry’s defeat to the Sheffield Steelers on Friday night meant that three successive wins for the Giants before Blaze are in action again this coming Saturday would take the Belfast men to the top of the league.

That would have meant a nip and tuck title race entering a tense final lap, but now it’s Coventry’s to throw away.

After the Giants lost 4-3 to the Edinburgh Capitals last night, it is no longer possible to hit the front without Blaze suffering another defeat and three wins from their last five games will give Coventry their fourth Elite League crown in six seasons — and that’s only if the Giants win their games.

As it stands the Giants need favours and their title hopes lie in the hands of the Sheffield Steelers, Nottingham Panthers and Edinburgh.

If two of those teams can beat Coventry in regulation time — with the Capitals having to play them twice — then the Giants can still travel to the Skydome on the final night of the league season in a fortnight’s time with the title at stake.

A 3-1 win for the Giants in Edinburgh on Saturday night had put them half way towards a perfect weekend and when Craig Peacock opened the scoring last night things were looking good.

Then, however, they hit penalty trouble for the second weekend in a row and four powerplay goals gave Edinburgh the victory.

Last Sunday night Coventry’s powerplay punished the Giants and once again the penalty killing team couldn’t withstand the pressure of being a man down — and at times two men down.

Jeff Szwez was off the ice when Jeff Hutchins levelled the game and Edinburgh scored a second powerplay goal in the space of 70 seconds through Simon Lambert to take the lead.

Edinburgh had a goal disallowed before Michael Jacobsen levelled the scores thanks to another powerplay goal with only seven minutes left on the clock.

If the Giants sensed that they could take victory at that stage they were made to think again when two Martin Cingel goals saw Edinburgh forge ahead — both on the powerplay and the second with just 47 seconds to go.

Brandon Benedict did get one back, with 26 seconds left, but it was all too little and probably too late to keep title hopes alive.

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