With top spot in the league in their sights, the Stena Line Belfast Giants got shut down by a rejuvenated Sheffield Steelers side, who sought to avenge a lopsided loss on Friday night. The Steelers scored under a minute into the game and it would be all the team needed as they skated to a 4-0 victory.
Following Saturday’s defeat the Giants drop to third place with 26 points from 22 games, four points behind the Sheffield Steelers in first place with 30 points from 25 games and one point behind the Cardiff Devils with 27 points from 20 games.
Just like in Friday night’s game, the scoring was opened early. This time, it was the Steelers who opened the scoring just 34 seconds into the game. There was a scramble in front of the net and goaltender Shane Owen lost track of the puck and it ended up just squeaking across the line.
The Giants pressed hard to find an equaliser early on. While on the power-play, Belfast appeared to score a goal, but the referees went upstairs for a review and determined the puck didn’t cross the line. A few minutes later, Jordan Smotherman hit the post point-blank and got robbed by Steelers goalie Tomas Duba on the doorstep.
Belfast would skate into the first intermission down 1-0 while also getting outshot 13-8.
The score remained 1-0 in favour of the Steelers after 40 minutes of play thanks to a tightly-contested second period. The Steelers also held a 30-19 edge on shots heading into the second intermission.
The story in the second was Belfast’s inability to stay out of the penalty box. The Giants went short-handed four times in the second frame, and while they were able to kill each of their penalties off, it resulted in the home side having little time on attack.
The Steelers would double their lead at 44:54. After the Giants killed off yet another penalty, David Phillips ripped a wrist-shot from the point that made its way past a screened Shane Owen.
The Giants would have a couple of opportunities to chip away at the lead as the Steelers took a couple of penalties in the third frame, but they weren’t able to solve a very solid Tomas Duba. A late penalty to Matt Pelech would be the final nail in the coffin for the Giants on Saturday night, as the Steelers iced the game on an empty-net, power-play goal at 57:47.
Duba would turn aside 31 Belfast shots on the way to a 4-0 shutout victory for the Steelers.
The Giants are back at The SSE Arena on Wednesday against the Cardiff Devils for the first leg of the Challenge Cup quarter-final. Tickets are available online now at ticketmaster.ie.