After a 1-1 tie in the first leg in the SkyDome a week ago, it was a winner-takes-all clash and the Giants looked to be on for the win as a double from Henrik Eriksson and further goals from Ara Nazarian and Quinn Preston had them four to the good, but the Blaze stormed back in the third period to claim the win, J.D. Dudek grabbing the winner in the shootout.
A scramble at the crease presented Tallberg the opportunity from the left circle but he snapped his shot straight at Tyler Beskorowany - 13 saves - while at the other end a solid pad save from Taran Kozun - 36 saves - denied Nazarian as he skated in on an odd-man rush with Daniel Tedesco.
Ben Lake perhaps should have given the Giants the lead when a misplay at the Blaze blue-line allowed him to skate in one-on-one but, despite forcing Kozun to the ice with some lovely stick-handling, could only put his backhand effort wide, while at the other end Tallberg once again found the body of Beskorowany after Dudek’s sliding pass fed him in close.
But it would be the Giants who would lead at the first intermission, the goal coming at 16:26 as Cameron Pound picked up his first point in a teal jersey when his pass to the crease was tipped in masterfully by Nazarian and into the top corner for the go-ahead goal. (1-0)
Beskorowany came up with the first big save of the second period as he got his body behind a Brady Norrish shot from the right circle, but the best early chance fell to Greg Printz as he was picked out by Travis Brown after a superb solo skate from the defenceman, but he couldn’t get his shot away with Kozun scrambling.
But the second period was dominated by the Giants, however, Lake was unable to convert Eriksson’s pass to the back door with Kozun beaten, and then on the same shift Charlie Curti fired wide from an excellent position in close as the home side ramped up the pressure.
And they would get the goal their dominance so richly deserved at 33:23, Ciaran Long’s deflected shot over forcing Coventry to call its timeout but Belfast coming back from the pause and immediately doubling their lead when Printz’s shot hit Eriksson and he was able to get the puck out from under his feet and bank it off the post and in. (2-0)
It could have been even better before the end of the period, Daniel Tedesco tipping a shot just wide from in front of Kozun’s net, while Bobby MacIntyre’s effort missed by inches on another rush up the ice.
The Giants quickly doubled their lead in the third period, Preston scoring a fine individual effort when he jumped on a loose puck in the left circle and finished at 41:12 (3-0) and then Eriksson added his second at 43:42 when he was fed in the right circle for the one-timer by Johnny Curran. (4-0)
But the Blaze’s comeback started with Tallberg benefitting from a fortunate bounce off the backboards, the puck coming back over the net and onto his stick to tap in at 45:52 (4-1), and then David Clements’ shot from the point was deflected in at the crease by a Giants skate to make it a two-goal game at 51:01. (4-2)
Adam Keefe called a timeout after the second goal, but it was to no avail as 40 seconds later Alessio Luciani made it a one-goal game when he steered in from close range (4-3) and the game was tied at 53:18 when Dudek got a tip on another Clements shot and it beat Beskorowany. (4-4)
It nearly didn’t go to overtime as Tedesco hit the post on the backhand with less than two minutes to go, but with the scores level, it went to the extra period.
Both teams had chances in overtime to win it, Tedesco feeding Matt McLeod on the breakaway but the winger fanning on the shot shortly before Dudek shot wide under pressure, but the game would need the shoot-out to decide it as the scores remained tied.
And it would be the Blaze who would win it as Dudek was the only man of the ten shots to score, a fine move beating Beskorowany, and when Kozun denied Tedesco with the final shot it was the visitors who will progress to the final four.
Next up, the Stena Line Belfast Giants will switch their attention back to the Elite League with a double-header against the Fife Flyers at The SSE Arena, Belfast on Friday 22 December and in Kirkcaldy on Saturday 23 December. Tickets are available here.