Elite League: Belfast Giants 4-1 Coventry Blaze

David Rutherford celebrates his equaliser for the Giants against Coventry Blaze
David Rutherford celebrates his equaliser for the Giants against Coventry Blaze

David Rutherford's double helped the Giants to victory over Coventry at the SSE Arena as they moved to within four points of leaders Cardiff Devils.

The deadlock was finally broken three minutes from the end of the second period with Ashley Tait scoring for the visitors on a power-play.

Rutherford levelled just 40 seconds later and he made it 2-1 early in the third period.

Jeff Mason and Chris Higgins added 'empty net' goals in the final minutes.

Sparks flew early in a feisty first period as Blaze's Garrett Klotz and Giants opponent Jim Vandermeer 'dropped the gloves'.

Blaze's Josh Godfrey challenges Belfast goalscorer Chris Higgins at the SSE Arena
Blaze's Josh Godfrey challenges Belfast goalscorer Chris Higgins at the SSE Arena

Both players sat out play for five minutes, with Klotz serving an additional two for the slashing offence that initiated the fight.

Belfast could not exploit the extra man advantage and an even first period ended scoreless.

The visitors took the lead through Tait after Matt Nickerson was penalised for boarding - the Giants responded with Rutherford firing past Brian Stewart into the Blaze net.

Rutherford put the hosts ahead as the Giants finally made a power-play count.

Simmering tensions boiled over once more as Adam Keefe and Klotz fought - the subsequent penalties incurred meant the latter would play no further part in proceedings.

Celebration time for David Rutherford after he finds the net in Monday's victory over the Blaze
Celebration time for David Rutherford after he finds the net in Monday's victory over the Blaze

The Giants then scored a decisive 'empty-netter' through Mason just seconds after Blaze had pulled keeper Stewart from the ice, and Higgins rubbed salt in by making it four with 32 seconds remaining.

Next up for the Giants are back-to-back home games against the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday and Sunday.

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