A very poor Edinburgh Capitals were brushed aside 6-2 by Belfast Giants at Murrayfield last night in their final Challenge Cup group game, a result which means Edinburgh face-off against the winners of Group B, Sheffield Steelers, in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Coupled with Saturday’s 4-2 Elite League loss to Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy, it is now five defeats in a row for Edinburgh, four of which have come on home ice.
Disappointed Edinburgh player-coach Michal Dobron, who did not play after picking up an injury blocking a shot in Kirkcaldy, said: “We really didn’t play good at all. We were without energy, we didn’t play to our systems. We offered nothing.
“Belfast are a good team and we need to keep things simple but we made stupid mistakes, and made stupid turnovers on the blue-line, and they scored with every chance they had.
“On Saturday (in Fife) I thought although we lost we played a good game, but it was so different last night and I don’t know why. I didn’t say anything special to the guys after the game because I was too emotional. After a performance like that it’s a good thing we are not back to the rink until tomorrow night. We will speak about it then.”
Pre-game it looked like Edinburgh would never have a better chance of beating Belfast, who were playing their third game in as many nights after wins over Fife and Cardiff Devils back in Northern Ireland. Belfast had nothing to play for after already doing enough to top group ‘A’ and elected to start with third choice goalie Andrew Dickson. However, in fairness the Giants stalwart, who lead a charmed life at times, played well on the night stopping 24 of the 26 shots he faced.
Edinburgh continued their unwelcome habit of starting slowly at Murrayfield and inside two minutes a sloppy Jaroslav Hertl pass in his own defensive zone gifted possession to the visitors who scored moments later through former Capitals forward David Rutherford. However, Edinburgh’s Yevgeni Fyodorov equalised just 16 seconds later.
The rest of the opening period was an even affair despite Belfast going back in front in the 19th minute through Michael Quesnele. Edinburgh did not to take advantage of two small five-on-three power-play opportunities after Belfast fell foul of whistle-happy match referee Pavel Halas. And they suffered an injury blow as Ian Schultz left the game to be taken to hospital with a suspected broken thumb.
Belfast were fortunate to extend their lead to 3-1 just two and a half minutes into the second period. Steve Saviano’s shot took a wicked deflection off Edinburgh’s Tyler Plews and beyond goalie Travis Fullerton.
Edinburgh did pull a goal back through captain Jacob Johnston, but any momentum was soon sucked out of their sails in the 29th minute after Edinburgh’s Sean Beattie coughed up the puck allowing a two-on-one break expertly worked between Rutherford and goalscorer James Desmarais.
Unfortunately for the home fans, the longer the game went on the poorer Edinburgh became, Belfast were happy to sit back and soak up Edinburgh pressure, and caught Caps with two sucker punch break-away goals, Desmarais with his second of the night and Jonathan Boxill doing the damage.
Edinburgh may have out-shot Belfast ten to four in the final period, but that statistic flatters the home side as Giants, who should have been dead on their feet after a busy weekend of hockey, cruised to victory.
As Edinburgh took a night off from League action other results went against them as Coventry Blaze beat Braehead Clan and Dundee Stars picked up a point in a penalty-shot defeat by Sheffield, which puts Capitals now bottom of the ten-strong table with nine points from 12 games played.