Elite League: Belfast Giants lose 5-2 to Sheffield Steelers
The Belfast Giants' hopes of catching Elite League leaders Cardiff Devils suffered a major setback with Friday's 5-2 home defeat by Sheffield Steelers.
The Devils remain five points ahead of the Giants with one game in hand.
Belfast host Coventry in their final home fixture of the season on Saturday, and then face the Devils away twice.
Mathieu Roy (2), Markus Nilsson, Geoff Walker and Guillaume Desbiens scored for Cardiff, with Jerome Leduc and James Desmarais netting for Belfast.
The result means Cardiff Devils will win the Elite League for first time in 20 years if they win at Sheffield on Saturday.
After a scoreless first period, the Steelers led 2-0 at the conclusion of the second period thanks to goals from Roy and Nilsson.
Leduc pulled one back, but strikes from Walker and Roy's second extended the visitors' advantage, before Desmarais scored.
Desbiens made the victory secure for the Steelers, who now move above their opponents in the league standings.