Challenge Cup: Belfast Giants lose to Cardiff Devils in quarter-final first leg
Belfast Giants suffered a 1-0 defeat by Cardiff Devils in the first leg of their Challenge Cup quarter-final at the SSE Arena.
A goal by captain Joey Martin midway through the first period gave the Devils victory over the cup holders.
Cardiff netminder Ben Bowns produced an impressive performance and his shutout preserved what may prove to be a crucial advantage.
The two sides will meet again for the second leg next Wednesday in Cardiff.
There were early fireworks in this clash as Giants captain Matt Pelech 'dropped the gloves' and tussled with the Devils' Mark Louis, with both players being punished with five minutes on the sidelines.
The hosts thought they had taken the lead midway through the first period but Jordan Smotherman hit the crossbar with a shot that was reviewed by officials but did not cross the line.
Cardiff soon went in front as Martin fired past Shane Owen into the net and they maintained their lead during a scoreless second period where the Giants failed to exploit three powerplay opportunities.
Cardiff had a late chance in the third period to double their advantage but Owen saved from Martin when the Devils' captain broke through on goal.
The Giants were frustrated at home for a second successive game and have now failed to score in over two hours of hockey.