Belfast Giants trail the Cardiff Devils 4-3 after Tuesday night's Challenge Cup quarter-final first leg at the Odyssey.
Joey Haddad put Cardiff ahead midway through the second period and Colin Shields levelled before Andrew Lord made it 2-1 to the Welsh visitors.
Jake Morissette extended Cardiff's lead and completed his double seven minutes into the third period.
Mike Kompon and Shields hit back for the Giants to give them hope going into next Wednesday's second leg.
The game was a slowburner with a scoreless first period, high on endeavour but devoid of major incident.
Cardiff broke the deadlock when Haddad tipped in a Mark Richardson shot.
The Giants responded in little over a minute when a superb pass by Calvin Elfring up the middle bisected the Cardiff defence and reached Shields, who beat Ben Bowns in the Devils goal.
But Cardiff were the dominant side for the remainder of the period with Lord re-establishing their lead from close range and Morissette bundling home past netminder Carsen Chubak.
Morisette silenced the Odyssey crowd for a second time as he made it 4-1 with 14 minutes to go, but there was time for a final flurry from the Giants.
Kompon pulled one back on a powerplay with five minutes remaining and it was soon 4-3 as Colin Shields smashed in the goal of the night with a rasping shot.
With a three month and 13-game unbeaten run at the Odyssey, the Giants threw everything at the Devils on a powerplay at the end in an exciting finale, but Cardiff return to Wales with a one-goal lead.