Elite League: Belfast Giants 6-4 Nottingham Panthers

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Belfast Giants hit two late goals to earn second win of weekend over Panthers

Last-minute goals from Sebastien Sylvestre and John Kurtz earned Belfast Giants a thrilling second Elite League win in 24 hours over Nottingham.

With the Giants having beaten the Panthers 5-2 on Friday night, they are now only three points behind leaders Cardiff Devils.

Kurtz opened the scoring before his empty-net goal with Spiro Goulakos and Blair Riley also on target for Belfast.

Nottingham twice came from two down to level before Belfast's big finish.

The Giants took the lead after only 14 seconds as Kurtz turned a Jeff Mason shot into the net.

The advantage was doubled at 10:05 on the powerplay as Goulakos' rocket shot went into the top corner.

Blair Riley celebrates after scoring in Saturday's win over Nottingham
Blair Riley scored Belfast's fourth goal in Saturday's win

The visitors got on the board at 18:15 when Eric Lindhagen followed up to score after Giants goalie Jackson Whistle had made the initial save but 35 seconds later the home side responded to make it 3-1.

Brendan Connolly stole the puck behind the Panthers cage and slipped it out in front to Sylvestre who had the simplest of finishes.

The Panthers dominated the start of the middle period and tied the game at 3-3 with a couple of quick strikes.

At 21:48 Steve Lee capitalised on a Giants turnover in their own zone to walk in and at 24:18 Mark Derlago was allowed to pick the puck up behind the goal and skate in front before slipping it into the net.

It took a powerplay for the Giants to gain a foothold in the period and they retook the lead when Sylvestre's shot was tipped in front by Riley.

Whistle stop keeps Giants on terms

Jackson Whistle saves Raphael Bussieres shot with 12 minutes left
Jackson Whistle's vital penalty stop prevented Nottingham from taking a 5-4 lead

Having gained control once again the Giants contrived to give it away when another sloppy pass in their defensive zone went astray and at 37:19 Jeff Brown tied the game heading into the final twenty minutes.

The Panthers had the chance to go ahead for the first time at 48:11 when they were awarded a short-handed penalty shot but Whistle saved the effort from Raphael Bussieres.

Somehow the Giants survived and killed two delay of game penalties as well before the exciting climax.

Connolly picked the puck up, circled the Panthers net not once but twice before turning and passing the puck in front to Sylvestre who knocked it past Michael Garnett. The clock read 22 seconds left.

Kurtz added the empty netter straight from the face-off and the Giants will continue their chase for the Elite League title at home against the Coventry Blaze on Friday night.

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