Jerome Leduc grabbed a debut double but Belfast Giants lost out overall to Cardiff Devils by 4-3 on a night of drama.
The SSE Arena fixture featured a top-of-the-table meeting as a closing Cardiff comeback secured two points at the expense of the home side.
Canadian Leduc arrived this week and marked his first appearance in Giants colours by breaking the deadlock following slick play between David Rutherford and Mark Garside.
Leduc, a 24-year-old defenceman from Quebec, has joined the Giants for the rest of the campaign from Czech Republic-based HC Dynamo Pardubice.
Michael Forney doubled the Giants’ advantage with just 38 seconds left in the first period as his shot nestled in the bottom corner to cap approach play from Blair Riley and Chris Higgins.
The Devils increased the pressure across the middle period but the Giants took full advantage of a powerplay during Josh Batch’s two-minute interference call as Leduc added a second of the night for 3-0.
Jim Vandermeer and Forney set up the Leduc finish - but Cardiff Devils produced a rousing rally across the final period.
Mark Richardson was on the end of strong play by Joey Haddad then forward Sean Bentivoglio closed the gap to 3-2 on 52 minutes.
Bentivoglio’s pass from behind the net deflected off Derrick Walser’s skate and into the Giants goal.
It was honours even on 55:44 as Haddad finished off a move involving Patrick Asselin and Andrew Hotham.
Asselin moved from provider to scorer when, after his part in the levellers, fired the Devils into a dramatic 4-3 lead.
The Cardiff side held the upper hand for the first time on the night with the clock at 57:46.
The Giants can also look forward to home ice tonight against the same side - with face-off at 7 o’clock against Cardiff Devils.
Cardiff Devils not hold a five-point lead at the head of the Elite League standings after 41 games. The Giants, sitting on 60 points from 42 games, enjoy an advantage against Sheffield Steelers.