The Stena Line Belfast Giants suffered a 6-3 setback on Sunday against Manchester Storm.
Three unanswered goals in the opening period got the visitors off to the best possible start and Storm never looked back, despite the Giants netting three times in the middle period.
Manchester opened the scoring at 4:40 when Luke Moffatt pulled a nice move to score on the powerplay, assisted by Dane Byers and Ryan Trenz.
Scott Pitt doubled the Storm lead at 9:04, assisted by Matt Beca, before Matt Stanisz made it 3-0 at 9:45 off good work from Mike Hammond and Moffatt.
Darcy Murphy pulled one back for the Giants with a cool finish, shorthanded.
However, Moffatt restored the Storm’s three-goal advantage with a powerplay strike assisted by Byers and Trenz.
A David Rutherford double brought the Giants to within one of the Storm.
First up, was an unassisted effort at 12:02 and then, 45 seconds later, the Giants’ third goal - assisted by Spiro Goulakos and Blair Riley.
Trenz gave the visitors a 5-3 lead at the end of the middle period with a goal assisted by Beca and Matt Stanisz.
Manchester scored their third powerplay goal of the game at 51:59 when Byers took advantage of the special teams opportunity, assisted by Beca and Hammond.
That left the final score a 6-3 reverse for the Belfast Giants.
David Rutherford was named the Giants’ leading player.
Belfast Giants will return to league action on Wednesday against the Dundee Stars. Tickets available via Ticketmaster.
That Sunday defeat arrived off the back of Friday’s 6-4 success over the Fife Flyers as two goals apiece for Rutherford, Steve Saviano and Jonathan Ferland wrapped up victory.
That left the Giants trailing first-placed Cardiff Devils by five entering the Storm challenge.