The Cup Finals has now become a best 2 out of 3 series after Berlin won Friday 3-1 to knot the finals.
The series will return to Belfast, where the Giants enjoyed complete and utter control of play in the first two games. But Sidney Crosby, who is tied for the team lead in scoring with 31 points in 17 playoff games, will be in the press box for what is being described as an upper body injury. He is listed as day-to-day.
On Friday, there was no question Berlin was the better team. At least that day. The Smurfs outshot Belfast 36-22 and 16-7 in the third period. Goals came from David Krejci (his 10th), Patric Hornqvist (9th) and Logan Couture (12th), while Nathan McKinnon scored his 4th of the playoffs for Belfast to tie the score 1-1 in the second period, but Hornqvist, who led everyone in shots with 8, gave Berlin the lead again less than a minute later. Later in that period, Belfast’s Micki Dupont tried to energize his team with a fight. Dion Phaneuf answered the bell for Berlin.
The Smurfs were able to hold Belfast’s top line of Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and James Neal scoreless and to just 5 shots on goal. The Crosby injury could be a pivotal event in this series. To compensate for the loss, Coach has moved Matt Duchene up to the top line, Cody Hodgson to the third line, and called up Mathieu Perreault to center the fourth line.
Duchene is a speedy playmaker who has talent and smarts. And he will have two accomplished wingers to feed in Ovechkin and Neal. Perreault has been a member of the Giants all five years but he has only been a fill-in on the talented team. Game 5 will be his first-ever playoff game. The 27-year-old appeared in 24 games this regular season and managed only a goal and an assist.