A close race ended with a lopsided 6-1 score in Game 7 and the Belfast Giants won the EURO Cup for the second season in a row Thursday.
Belfast and Berlin were separated by just a point in the standings and by a single shot in the final game, but Belfast’s shooters were deadly against Smurf goalies Jimmy Howard and then Erik Ersberg.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored the game’s first goal, a blazing one-time snapshot about 3 minutes into the game after a pass from behind the net made by Matt Duchene. James Neal scored his 15th of the playoffs later in the period and Howard exited.
In the second period, Duchene came up with a back-breaking goal shorthanded to make it 3-0 with 12:31 to play in the period. By the end of two periods, Berlin held a 23-16 shot advantage but Belfast goalie Jonathan Quick hadn’t yet yielded a Berlin goal.
With the home crowd behind them sensing a win, Belfast got stronger in the third period. Neal and Duchene each scored his second of the game and Nazem Kadri made it academic with his 6th goal of the playoffs with just under 7 minutes to play. Berlin finally beat Quick with 2:47 remaining as Aleksander Barkov tallied, but the goal did nothing to dull the celebration in Belfast that was already under way.
Belfast got into the Finals series after conquering Edinburgh 4-0, London 4-0 and Minsk 4-1. Neal finished as the leading scorer and goal scorer in the playoffs, notching 6 goals and 36 points in the 20 games he played. His line mates, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, placed second and third in scoring with 34 and 32 points respectively.