Video: Sheffield Steelers shut out Belfast but face giant task tomorrow

Goal scorer Guillaume Desbiens
Goal scorer Guillaume Desbiens

A defensive master-class saw Sheffield Steelers into tomorrow's Play Off final.

They scored after four minutes and then contained Belfast Giants' offence for the rest of the game.

Stephen Murphy was beaten in the fourth minute

Stephen Murphy was beaten in the fourth minute

They secured a place in the final with an empty-netter with seconds remaining.

Now Paul Thompson's men need to rest and re-hydrate before taking on Cardiff Devils in tomorrow's final at the NIC, Nottingham.

The coach said he was interested more in the result than the performance saying: "We bent and bent, but we didn't break."

He was annoyed that his team had to travel back to Sheffield, rather than staying over in Nottingham, as Cardiff did.

JP heading down the wing

JP heading down the wing

A cracking Guillaume Desbiens' goal had put Sheffield into the lead .

The winger smashed the puck from the right flank and goaltender Stephen Murphy couldn't get his blocker anywhere near it.

It was the only decisive goal action of a first period which had been tightly contested.

And it followed Desbien's game winner in the semi-finals against Nottingham Panthers.

Andreas Valdix in the semi

Andreas Valdix in the semi

Giants will claim they had the better chances.

Blair Riley's attempt on the far post was deflected wide by Ervins Mustukovs' leg and then Chris Higgins powered into the goalie's chest.

Desbiens' put his side ahead at 4;15 assists going to Andreas Valdix and Rob Dowd.

But a cross -ice pass from Dowd was soon to be intercepted and Mike Forney's line created danger on the rush.

Sheffield centre John Armstrong was resourceful and creative, while Rod Sarich seemed to have it all figured out at the back.

Giants continued to make chances though, Colin Shields was saved, near post, and David Rutherford created three scoring chances before the first interval.

Rutherford was getting too much puck around the crease - and Steelers needed to take that time and space away from him.

Murphy was flattened at the start of the second period - but thankfully there was no repetition of the Miika Wiikman incident of last Sunday.

Belfast had the lion's share of the ice but their shooting lacked precision, mainly due to the speed in which Sheffield's forecheckers challenged them.

There were signs the Irish were getting desperate as Mike Forney set off on an individual skate, which was easily closed down and set up a counter-attack.

Steelers had their second Power Play of the evening when Jorome Leduc's stick smashed into Colton Fertter's face as the Sheffield winger skated down the left flank.

With fans of all sides (and other anti-Steeler elements) raising the noise levels, a goal looked likely - but neither side failed to find one.

Mathieu Roy, later to suffer a puck injury to his right leg, was unfortunate when the puck was whisked away from his blade with the goal at his mercy.

Riley had three third period chances as Giants looked in vain for a reply.

But Sheffield's defence was water-tight.

Sarich looked like he could have played his role ina dinner jacket - while Zack Fitzgerald bravely shrugged off another puck injury to help kill a penalty.

Markus Nilsson had one of few Sheffield chances, breaking away and firing into Murphy's shoulder.

Rutherford missed a sitter with the clock ticking.

And Belfast were put out of their misery when they conceded an empty netter from Levi Nelson at 59:35.

*Cardiff Devils produced a fantastic fightback to beat Dundee Stars 4-2 in their Elite League play-off semi-final and keep alive their Grand Slam bid.

With the Challenge Cup, Erhardt Conference and Elite League trophies already claimed, Devils' hopes of completing a clean sweep seemed to be in danger when they trailed 2-0 at the end of the first period.

However, Andrew Lord's side reeled off four unanswered goals to book their place in Sunday's final.

Kevin Hart put Stars in the lead at 12.29 with a blast from range before Brett Switzer added a second at 18.13 after a great pass from Vinny Scarsella.

Devils pulled a goal back at 26.57 with a composed finish from Joey Haddad with Mark Louis tying the game up at 43.40, converting the loose puck.

Joey Martin's effort on the rebound handed Devils the lead for the first time at 51.27 and, after killing a late penalty, Andrew Hotham wrapped up the win with an empty-net marker 10 seconds from time.

Dundee coach Marc Lefebvre, a former Steeler, said it was impossible to predict a winner in the final.

However he did compliment the depth of Devils' roster, including the fourth line, and suggested Ervins Mustukovs, of Sheffield, was the top netminder at the NIC.