By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars earned their first win of the week with a comeback victory against the Giants and finally found their scoring touch to net five times.
Matt Bissonnette was the only name missing from the Dundee team sheet for this Elite League fixture and Belfast did not ice Matt Towe, Matt Garside and Andrew Dickson.
The Giants got off to a good start by creating some early chances but they lacked a clinical touch in the opening minutes. Stars were next to go close as Jordan Cownie followed up on Charlie Corcoran’s shot that hit the post but the Scot could not jam home the rebound.
Belfast took the lead in the fourth minute after Kendall McFaull’s shot from the blueline was tipped in front by Patrick Dwyer. The goal was reviewed to check for any illegalities but after a lengthy review it was given.
Stars struggled to get going and match the pace of the Giants who dominated the first ten minutes and were playing with confidence. This showed as they bagged a second goal in the eighth minute, Francis Beauvillier beat Pontus Sjögren on the break after rounding defenceman Kris Inglis, this caused the Stars Coach to use his timeout.
Drydn Dow took exception to a hit on Dundee’s Lukas Lundvald after the restart and despite Dow’s aggravation, it was not enough to counter Curtis Leonard’s height advantage and that allowed the Giant to control the scrap.
The first powerplay of the night went to Stars as Leonard picked up an interference penalty from the hit on Lundvald but Dundee could not utilise the man advantage. Shortly after the penalty expired, Adam Keefe’s side got their initial powerplay of the night. The Northern Irish club had a few good chances but the Stars penalty kill continued their impressive run.
Some big saves by Belfast goalie Tyler Beskorowany kept the Stars out before a rebound came to Mike Sullivan and he blasted a shot into the net to get Dundee on the board in the 14th minute.
Stars came straight back at Beskorowany after the restart but the Canadian gloved the puck. The visitors almost restored their two-goal lead after one shot bounced off the Dundee keeper but the play went up the other end and Stars equalised in the 16th minute. François Bouchard forced a defensive mistake and a bad pass was intercepted by Matt Marquardt, he sent the puck into the open Cownie, who fired into a gaping net.
Omar Pacha’s side began to play with a boost and they had a chance to take the lead after Paul Swindlehurst’s holding infraction put them on the powerplay. A good kill from Belfast kept the game tied before Dwyer skated from his own end into the Stars zone and shot the puck over the Stars goalie from close range. Dwyer gave the Giants the lead in the final second of the first period.
The middle stanza started off with a big scramble in front of the Stars goal but Sjögren was down to cover it up until the whistle. Belfast were back on the powerplay after Bouchard was penalised for high sticks. However, a penalty against Josh Roach evened things up in the 26th minute.
The home side returned to four skaters and once on the man advantage they started to attack the Giants goal. A big shot from distance was saved before a few rebounds were missed, however Bouchard was at the backdoor to finish off the chance and draw Stars level again in the 28th minute.
With Cox in Dundee’s penalty box for interference, Brian Hart found a chance shorthanded but he could not tuck it past Beskorowany. The action went from end-to-end before Stars were back on the man advantage, this time it was Kyle Baun who was called for minor kneeing offence.
Although it turned into a huge chance for Stars to take the lead as a delay of game penalty against Roach, four seconds after the face-off gave them a long 5-on-3 powerplay. Beskorowany was key in keeping the game tied, as he made numerous saves before the pressure ended as the penalties expired.
However, Keefe’s men were shorthanded again after Lewis Hook was boxed on a slashing call, this time the Giants netminder was unable to keep out a rocket from Lundvald in the 38th minute. The Stars had turned around a one goal deficit to lead 4-3 at the end of the second.
Stars began the third period well but were quickly on the backfoot as a tripping call inside the opening minute left Cox in the box. Sjögren continued his fine form after impressing all week and the Stars penalty kill remained at 100 per cent for the week.
As the game moved on there was a big chance for Corcoran but he seen his effort saved before Belfast’s Beauvillier was denied by the post at the other end. Stars had another 5-on-3 powerplay as McFaull was penalised for delay of game and Guillaume Gélinas for tripping, Giants managed to kill off the McFaull penalty before Lundvald took a shot from the right circle and it bounced off a defenceman and over Beskorowany, giving Dundee a 5-3 lead in the 51st minute.
Stars continued to create turnovers and chances but the Giants were not out of it and looked dangerous. Omar Pacha would have been happy to see his side’s excellent defensive play that had been on show all week, come out again in the third period. Hunter Bishop coasted through the Stars defence late in period before being stopped by Sjögren, as the Swede was standing on his head to protect the two-goal lead
Dow rattled the Belfast crossbar before Stars ended up on the penalty kill inside the final three minutes, Cox was sent off for two minutes after playing the puck out of bounds. The Giants were forced to the outside as they could rarely find an opening in the Dundee defence, but on one occasion they got through and a there was a melee in front of the goal until the puck was cleared.
Despite pulling their goalie and using their timeout, Belfast still could not cut open the Stars and with the crowd urging them on they held on for the 5-3 win and the two points.
Stars have a short time to rest before they head south to Milton Keynes for their first fixture with the lightning and their fourth game in five days.