Ruthless Giants maintain pursuit of leaders Coventry Blaze
AN eighth shutout of the season for goaltender Stephen Murphy ensured Belfast Giants maintained their challenge for Elite League glory with victory over Edinburgh Capitals.
Murphy kept a second consecutive clean sheet as the Northern Ireland outfit notched up a 4-0 win over their Scottish counterparts to stay within a point of league-leaders Coventry Blaze.
Jeff Szwez grabbed his 34th and 35th goals of the season to hand his side a two-goal cushion and strikes from George Awada and Craig Peacock finished off the scoring.
It could have been far worse for the Capitals, who had goaltender Cody Rudkowsky to thank for keeping the score down as the Giants racked up 59 shots to Edinburgh's 16.
Elsewhere, the Blaze maintained their slender advantage at the top of the table as they survived a major late scare to see of Sheffield Steelers 5-4.
The Blaze are certainly stuttering over the line in their bid to clinch the league title and after a heavy defeat to Nottingham Panthers, they did their best to throw victory away against Sheffield.
Coventry started brightly enough and hit four unanswered goals through Brian Lee, Luke Fulgham, Brad Cruikshank and Tom Watkins after Matt Hubbauer had given the Steelers a shock early lead.
A scoreless second period ensured the Blaze were three goals to the good and cruising going into the last third and when Dan Carlson made it 5-2 after Robert Dowd had pulled a goal back for Sheffield, the points were all but sealed.
But when Jonathan Phillips notched on 56 minutes and Joey Talbot followed suit with 100 seconds remaining, all Blaze hearts were in mouths, only for Coventry to cling on for the points.
Meanwhile, Nottingham Panthers' title hopes were dealt a major blow as goals from Matt Miller, Jay Latulippe and Geoff Woolhouse handed Cardiff Devils a 3-0 victory.
And basement boys Hull Stingrays closed the gap on seventh-placed Newcastle Vipers to three with an impressive 6-3 victory.