Giants’ goalie Tyler Beskorowany was tested after 30 seconds, as Ryan Penny’s tip in front was covered up.
At the other end, Giants Captain David Goodwin provided the visitors with their first big chance after four minutes, but with Blaze goalie CJ Motte wrong-footed, Goodwin’s shot trickled wide.
Belfast continued to press, and Ben Lake’s wrister from the high slot at 5:50 was parried into the path of Darcy Murphy who made no mistake in front of goal (Second assist: Ciaran Long). (0-1)
Coventry surged offensively after the drop and had the edge mid period, with Beskorowany turning away a series of decent attempts.
Joey Raats sent a puck to the crease for Ryan Penny to tip down inside the last five minutes, but again Beskorowany held strong, before Janne Laakkonen’s shot was saved with the blocker seconds later.
Cam Knight sat for tripping at 17:54, but the Giants (playing without one of their premier penalty killers in Kevin Raine) saw away the danger.
Ryan Penny stirred the Skydome crowd on the opening faceoff, taking advantage of an early lapse in concentration from the Giants defenders to call Beskorowany into a blocker save.
The Giants players silenced that energy after five minutes, celebrating a goal after a puck was sent into traffic at Motte’s crease, but after a lengthy conversation referees Tom Pering and Steve Brown waved play on.
Belfast went two for two on the penalty kill at 27:21 when Cam Knight returned to the box for hooking, and they could not find the target on their opening power play when Alec Marsh sat for roughing at 30:12.
A fairly end to end period came to a head when Evan Bloodoff shot off the backhand after a forced turnover with two minutes remaining, but again Beskorowany was alert to the danger.
Ryan Penny was denied his second breakaway of the game by Beskorowany after three minutes, followed by a grade A Evan Bloodoff shot moments later. The Giants goalie and his defencemen were holding back the tide as the period entered its final ten. As Coventry pressed, Sam Ruopp broke up a Luke Ferrara/Ross Venus 2 on 1.
David Goodwin came close with nine minutes remaining, skating in from the left and dangling the puck around a diving Nahanael Halbert before Motte stepped up with a big save.
Jaane Kivilahti tied the game at 51:50, a fair reward for a decent period from the hosts as he finished a Ross Venus puck in the slot (Second assist: Joey Raats). (1-1)
An animated Adam Keefe called a time out immediately, and the Giants were clinical but unfortunate on a Bloodoff tripping penalty at 52:06.
Goal scorer Darcy Murphy was there to set up Slater Doggett for the go-ahead goal as the pendulum swung again on a frantic third period at 55:04.
The Giants saw away a Slater Doggett high sticking penalty at 55:09, but a puck from the right side boards was flicked from the edge of the crease by Conner Chaulk into the path of Nathanael Halbert, who tied proceedings for the Blaze at 58:11. (2-2)
The second leg of the Premier Sports EIHL Playoff Quarter Final takes place in Belfast on Sunday afternoon at 4:00pm, with the aggregate score tentatively tied at 2. The team needs its Teal Army for one final time at The SSE Arena, Belfast this season, get your tickets NOW!
Pictures by Scott Wiggins.