Elite League: Belfast Giants 4-3 Cardiff Devils

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Coach Keefe unhappy as Giants 'winner' is ruled out

The Belfast Giants beat the Cardiff Devils 4-3 after penalties in the first of a weekend double-header between the top two teams in the Elite League.

The win closes the gap at the top of the table to six points after a controversial end to the game.

The Giants thought they had won with 1.6 seconds of overtime remaining when Spiro Goulakos's shot went in off the crossbar but the goal was disallowed.

Darcy Murphy scored in the shootout to earn a vital win for the home side.

Cardiff took an early lead during a fast-paced first period when Jake Morissette scored on the powerplay and the visitors had other good opportunities to increase their advantage as they dominated the opening exchanges.

Play was punctuated by a number of dubious penalty calls on both teams and it was skating 4-on-4 when the Giants got the tying goal.

It was created and scored by Rutherford as he controlled the puck, dragged it around both defencemen and goaltender Ben Bowns to score a wonderful solo goal.

Darcy Murphy scored the only goal of the shootout to seal a 4-3 win for the Giants
Darcy Murphy scored the only goal of the shootout to seal a 4-3 win for the Giants

There was only one score in a fiercely physical middle period and it went the way of the home side.

At 26:03, Sylvestre received a little touch pass from Steve Saviano, skated into the slot and slammed an unstoppable wrist shot over the glove of Bowns and into the roof of the net.

The Devils powerplay struck again at 46:56 through Patrick Asselin to tie the game but at 45:58 Rutherford edged the home side in front once again with another solo effort.

The visitors showed why they have the top ranked powerplay in the league at 54:52 when Mark Richardson's redirection made it 3-3 and sent the game to overtime.

In a dramatic finish, Goulakos was denied the winning goal for an interference on Bowns but replays appeared to show the referee's decision was incorrect.

The Giants bench was incensed by the ruling but Murphy kept his composure to earn a vital two points for his side.

The Giants are now six points behind Cardiff, who have a game in hand, and the two title rivals will return to the SSE Arena in Belfast on Saturday for their second match up of the weekend.