Zack Fitzgerald was recalled to the Sheffield Steelers squad as coach Paul Thompson sought to put some muscle and inspiration in his team, at Belfast Giants, tonight. But it wasn't enough to secure the points.
The American defenceman had been benched for the last three games, he was deemed a spare with Sheffield having one fit import over the quota.
Tonight, forward Jonas Westerling was off the team-sheet (groin injury) as Steelers looked for their second win over the season in Northern Ireland.
Steelers piled on the pressure at the end.
But they couldn't find an equaliser, Giants extending their lead over Sheffield to five points, in the table.
Sheffield have now won five and lost five of the last 10 games.
They have scored one goal in two hours.
And they have lost more games in regulation than any team in the top seven.
Sheffield, who had won 3-2 at the Giants' rink last month, a day before losing 1-6, were behind after just 72 seconds, this evening.
Blair Riley finished off a move featuring Sebastien Sylvestre and Kevin Raine.
Giants outshot Sheffield 12-9 and Sheffield had to wait until the second period to find an equaliser, Mark Matheson found Miika Franssila whose wrist shot was rebounded for Matt Marquardt to execute at 23:22 on the Power Play.
Steelers had some chances, striking the pipework on a couple of occasions.
But they went behind when Steve Saviano crashed the net to score unassisted at 52:45.
Steelers felt goalie Ervins Mustukovs had been obstructed - but the goal stood.
Jackson Whistle kept Steelers out as the game headed towards closure.
Coach Paul Thompson rolled the dice by bringing his goalie off in the final moments, and with Spiro Goulakos serving a minor penalty, they had the opportunity.
But it wasn't to be, as Steelers lost to a team above them - as they did midweek, to Cardiff Devils.
Sheffield host Fife Flyers tomorrow.
Saturday 24th February
Belfast Giants 2 Sheffield Steelers 1
Braehead Clan 3 Dundee Stars 4
Coventry Blaze 5 Guildford Flames 4 (After Overtime)
Fife Flyers 5 Nottingham Panthers 4 (After Penalty Shootout)
Manchester Storm 3 Cardiff Devils 1
Sunday 25th February
Cardiff Devils v Belfast Giants v - 6.00pm
Edinburgh Capitals v Nottingham Panthers - 6.00pm
Guildford Flames v Manchester Storm - 6.00pm
Milton Keynes Lightning v Coventry Blaze - 5.30pm
Sheffield Steelers v Fife Flyers - 5.00pm