Panthers v Giants
The Nottingham Panthers
4 - 1
THE NOTTINGHAM Panthers returned to Elite League action on Saturday night when the reigning league champion Belfast Giants visited the Motorpoint Arena.
Kevin Carr got the start in goal for the Panthers, who were without Georgs Golovkovs (lower body), opposite Shane Owen for the Giants.
Jullian Talbot, Jake Hansen and Brett Perlini all came close inside the first two minutes as the home side came out of the blocks like a house on fire before Ollie Betteridge turned on the jets and drew the games first penalty (2.22) when he was tripped.
Belfast survived the Panthers’ powerplay as Brett Bulmer deflected the puck agonizingly wide on a great feed from Mark Matheson and a goal mouth scramble, somehow, didn’t end up in the back of Owen’s goal.
Kevin Carr had to be alert to extend his left pad and make his first save of the game before Bulmer was once more in the thick of things, chipping the puck by two Giants’ players and drawing a holding penalty (10.12) as the visitors scrambled to keep him away from their goal.
Once again the Giants killed the penalty and this time they used the momentum to generate some chances of their own with Kevin Carr having to be at his best to deny Wronka and Smotherman.
With the period coming to a close Brett Perlini (18.26) picked a pocket, cut inside from the right-wing and fired a quick shot through the five-hole of Owen to bring the Motorpoint Arena to it’s feet and send the Panthers into the intermission holding a one goal advantage.
A whistle heavy beginning to the second period saw the game’s pace creep to a snails pace but it picked up when Brian Connelly powered into the Giants zone and got a backhand shot across Owen onto his right pad, unfortunately for the Giants’ netminder that rebound landed right on the tape of his former Fife Flyers’ teammate Brett Bulmer (24.10) and he rifled a one-timer into the back of the goal to give the hosts a two goal lead.
Belfast called their time-out after the goal and their Head Coach Adam Keefe read the riot act to his charges. Inspired by his words they soon rang one off of the crossbar before drawing two powerplays in quick succession only to be foiled by the Panthers’ penalty killers and netminder Kevin Carr.
Just over 20 seconds after killing the second penalty the Panthers made it a three-goal spread. Brett Bulmer moved the puck from behind the goal line onto the tape of William Quist (37.00) and the big Swede found nothing but twine with his one-timer from the slot.
Ollie Betteridge came close to adding a fourth and Gui Lepine had to make an excellent defensive play to break up a Giants’ two-on-one break-in to ensure they went into the second intermission holding a three-goal lead.
Captain Sam Herr came close not once (wristshot), not twice (deflection), but three times (slapshot) in the space of around ten seconds early in the third period but Owen denied him on each occasion to keep the Giants in the game.
Jullian Talbot then came close to opening his Panthers’ account when he deflected Gui Lepine’s shot from the right wing on goal before Mark Matheson fired through heavy traffic but once again Owen provided stubborn resistance.
Kevin Carr showed tremendous reactionary speed as he somehow found a puck through a mass of bodies and extended his left pad to keep the Giants off the board.
With Brett Perlini (51.20) in the box and a bench penalty for too-many-men (52.01) giving the visitors a five-on-three opportunity the Giants took advantage, Brian Ward (53.02) applying the finishing touch to break Carr’s shut-out bid.
Nottingham killed the remainder of the Giants powerplay and swept up ice to hit their fourth. Brian Connelly finding Jake Hansen (54.32) and he slid the puck through Owen on the back hand to make it 4-1.
There was no further incident in the game and The Nottingham Panthers took the first game of the weekend’s double header against the Giants.