The Belfast Giants squeezed past the Braehead Clan on Thursday night with Greg Stewart’s overtime winner sealing a 4-3 victory.
It was a tense night at the Odyssey Arena, one that coach Doug Christiansen doesn’t want to see repeated on Saturday when the Hull Stingrays visit town.
His side aren’t playing great hockey at the moment as they absorb injuries to players such as Andrew Fournier and Will Colbert, the latest casualty, and integrate new signings Kevin Saurette and Colin Shields into their line-up, but they are winning games.
With the Nottingham Panthers setting the pace at the top of the Elite League there can be no slip-ups.
Stewart’s goal against the Clan might be huge at the end of the season as the Panthers slumped to a 9-4 defeat at the hands of the Sheffield Steelers leaving the gap between the Panthers and Giants at four points with Christiansen’s side having two games in hand.
“We didn’t play our best game defensively against the Clan and I thought our penalty kill wasn’t very good,” said Christiansen.
“However coming out of the Christmas break you never really know how teams are going to respond.
“You have a couple of days off and you get away from the rink but we practiced well and I thought we’d be a little bit sharper but unfortunately we weren’t but fortunately we got the result and that’s all that mattered
“Every goal is going to be vital over the next three months, there’s no doubt about that, but an overtime winner is crucial. I thought Greg Stewart played exceptional, he won battles around the boards and in front of the net and he was rewarded for his hard work with his goals.”