Elite League: Belfast Giants 7-4 Coventry Blaze

By Nigel RinglandBBC Sport NI
Coach Keefe critical of Giants despite win over Coventry

The Belfast Giants won a goal-fest at the SSE Arena as they beat Coventry Blaze 7-4 to move within three points of Elite League leaders Cardiff Devils.

The home side scored four unanswered third-period goals to overturn a 4-3 deficit, with seven different players getting their names on the scoresheet.

It was 1-1 after the first period but Coventry led 4-3 after the second.

The two sides will meet again on Saturday evening, then the Giants travel to Guildford Flames on Sunday.

Fifteen points separated the two sides at the start of the game but the Coventry Blaze showed no inferiority complex in the opening 20 minutes.

Giants goalie Jackson Whistle was forced to make a string of saves to keep the game scoreless and give his side a chance to take the lead.

They did that at 5:44 on a delayed penalty call when Colin Shields and Brendan Connolly set up Jim Vandermeer who was trailing the play and the big defenceman rattled the puck past Kevin Nastiuk.

The advantage didn't last long with the league's worst powerplay statistically getting on the scoreboard at 7:30 when Danick Paquette deflected the puck beyond Whistle.

Free-scoring second period

There were plenty of goals in the second period and some horrible work from both sides in their respective defensive zones.

The problems for the Giants came when Ryan Martinelli and Jonathan Ferland were whistled for penalties just 10 seconds apart and the Blaze scored twice on the powerplay just 21 seconds apart.

Paquette nudged home his second of the game from close range before Josh Robinson rifled home from just inside the blue line.

Within a minute the Giants were back within a goal when Shields scored with the man advantage of their own and a perfectly executed odd-man rush from Steve Saviano who set up Darcy Murphy tied the game at 3-3 at 32:45.

However it took just 27 more tock of the clock for Jordan Pietrus to find himself all alone in front of the Giants net and he made no mistake to restore the lead for the Blaze.

After killing a couple more penalties to start the final period the Giants eventually seized control of the game.

Sebastian Sylvestre slipped home the tying goal at 44:24 assisted by David Rutherford and the Giants went ahead when Brandon Benedict picked a good moment to score his first league goal of the season.

Just 16 seconds later Connolly roofed the puck past Nastiuk to give the Giants a little breathing space.

Excellent forechecking by Matt Towe and Ferland then set up John Kurtz to round off the scoring.