Giants v Panthers
6 - 4
With Michael Garnett in Panthers' net instead of Patrick Galbraith it was otherwise the same line-ups for the second of the back-to-back games in Northern Ireland on Saturday night.
Giants got off to a flyer with a tipped home goal after just 14 seconds. Panthers responded well and had chances to score but when Mathieu Gagnon picked up two minutes for roughing whilst protecting Garnett in the crease the home side doubled their lead on the man-advantage with a shot from left point just past ten minutes.
Yann Sauve carried the puck out of defence, dished it out to Erik Lindhagen on the right wing who threw it towards net, it hit Sauve’s leg and then rebounded off the keeper’s pad for Lindhagen to rattle home and put Panthers on the board.
Seconds later though Garnett’s attempt beside his net to help his defence clear some danger left him stranded and the puck was turned back to the front for a tap in and Giants held a 3-1 lead at the first break.
Panthers took the game to the home side in the second period and with a few line switches in the Nottingham ranks they piled on the pressure. Giants’ netminder made four big saves on one shift but then Panthers picked off a weak clearance and Steve Lee sidestepped in to hit the far bottom corner for a 3-2 scoreline at 21.48.
More Panthers pressure saw three highlight reel saves by the home goalie but sheer bloody mindedness saw Mark Derlago bring the puck out front from behind the net, he waited for Whistle to go down and fired home an equaliser at 24.18 and Giants took their time-out.
Panthers still had the upper hand but a powerplay to the home side gave them some respite and they tipped home to regain the lead at 27.56. A Panthers’ powerplay warmed up and up as it went on without success, then the penalty killers saw off another two minute call and then more Panthers’ pressure saw Giants cough up the puck, Alex Mokshantsev fed Jeff Brown who was beyond the goalie, his first effort hit the post but he jammed home the rebound to tie the game at 4-4 at 37.19 which was the way of it at the forty minute break.
The Giants had the better of the play in the third period but Panthers were still working hard and they were awarded a short-handed penalty-shot in the 49th minute after Raphael Bussieres was upended on a break-in opportunity. Whistle denied him that chance. Two delay of game penalties against Giants gave Panthers two more gilt-edged chances to win the game but Giants killed well and as the clock ran down the home side was allowed to circle in Panthers end and find a man at the back door to hit the game winning goal with 22 seconds left on the clock.
Nottingham took their time out and pulled Garnett for the extra skater. Brett Perlini won the centre-ice draw but neither defenceman could reach the puck in the middle channel and Giants pounced to add an empty-net goal to rub salt in Panthers’ wounds with 16 seconds left.