The Smurfs got back into the Finals series Wednesday with a win that was not nearly as convincing as either of the Giants’ two wins in Northern Ireland. But thanks to much better goaltending from Jimmy Howard and a more mortal-like performance by Jonathan Quick at the other end of the rink, we have a close series.
Line changes by coach Adam Oates seemed to work for the Smurfs in Game 3. Jiri Tlusty opened the scoring about 2 minutes into the game with his third goal of the playoffs, David Krejci and Patric Honrqvist getting assists. That trio make up Berlin’s second line and they came up with another goal – the eventual game-winner – in the second period. Hornqvist scored that one after tallying on a powerplay to give Berlin a 2-1 lead in the first period. Hornqvist now has 8 playoff goals and seven assists through 20 games. In his 22 previous playoff games, he had managed just 2 goals and 4 assists.
The Giants continued a weird tendency that should have hurt them more than it has so far. They seem to wilt in the third periods of games. In their 4-1 series win against Minsk, Belfast outshot the Hussars in the third period just twice. In the third periods of game in this series, the Giants have been outshot 15-3, 9-6 and then on Wednesday, 14-1.
Belfast defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson took an inadvertent knee to his eye in the game and he is experiencing some swelling around it but he is expected to be ready for Game 4.