Elite League: Belfast title hopes almost certainly over after defeat in Cardiff
Belfast Giants' Elite League title hopes are almost certainly over after Saturday night's 5-2 defeat by Cardiff.
The Giants are now seven points behind leaders Sheffield, with Belfast only having four remaining games.
Mathematically, Belfast still have eight points to play for but their title chances appear to have gone.
Two Joey Martin strikes put Cardiff in control and despite Belfast goals from James Desmarais and Mike Forney, the Devils eased to victory.
After a goalless first period, Martin's goals gave Cardiff a 2-0 lead before Desmarais replied before the end of the second period.
Guillaume Doucet restored Cardiff's two-goal advantage and while Forney cut the margin to 3-2, further goals from Andrew Hotham and Tomas Kurka secured the win which keeps the Devils' league title ambitions very much alive.
Sheffield lead the table on 66 points, two ahead of Cardiff, but the Devils have a game in hand.
Braehead are five points off the pace with the Giants a further two points adrift after their second successive defeat.
Sheffield maintained their place at the top of the table as they earned a 4-2 away win over Nottingham Panthers on Saturday night.
A Sheffield home victory over Coventry on Saturday night will end any remote Belfast title hopes, no matter what happens in the Giants' second game of the weekend in the Welsh capital.