Belfast Giants beat Coventry Blaze in penalty shootout
The Belfast Giants overcame Coventry Blaze in a penalty shootout after their Elite League match at the SSE Arena ended in a 1-1 draw after overtime.
David Rutherford, on his home debut, was the only player to score as Stephen Murphy repelled three Blaze efforts.
Brenden Walker fired Coventry into the lead in the first period but Brandon Benedict shot home the equaliser midway through the second period.
The sides will meet again at the same venue on Saturday night (19:00 GMT).
After Walker's opener, the hosts managed an extended siege on Brian Stewart's goal during a series of power plays but were unable to find a way past the Coventry netminder.
The Giants were grateful to their own keeper, Stephen Murphy, for a couple of smart saves to keep the scoreline at 1-0, but their pressure eventually told when Benedict levelled.
A feisty third period followed with plenty of aggression on display on the ice, not least from Belfast's James Desmarais, who served a 10-minute major penalty for striking an opponent.
With no further scoring for the remainder of the period or in overtime, it was left to Rutherford to emerge as the matchwinning hero in his first appearance in front of his home fans.
The victory ends a run of four straight league defeats for the Giants, although they did enjoy a 5-2 victory over Manchester Storm in a Challenge Cup quarter-final, first leg, on Wednesday.