Game 1 of the EURO Cup finals started out in jittery fashion, with sloppy play, penalty parades and shaky goaltending, but when the third period rolled around, Belfast was able to clamp things down and skate away with the win, 6-3.
Two shorthanded goals scored by Belfast seemed to really deflate and rattle Lisbon. The first was scored by Victor Hedman with a little under 4 minutes to go in the first period and it put Belfast on top with a 3-1 lead. The second occurred with 5:31 remaining in the second period when Matt Duchene scored to break a 3-3 tie. That goal swung momentum in the game. Lisbon had been able to claw back to score their third goal against Jonathan Quick when Jonas Holos blasted in a point shot. Lisbon kept pressing and seemed to have the Giants on the ropes. Belfast was called for three penalties in 4-and-half minutes and Lisbon’s powerplay came close a few times to giving them the lead. But while penalty killing, Oliver Ekman-Larsson cleared a puck to the boards and Evander Kane threw it to a streaking Duchene, who skated in with Sami Vatanen all over him and was able to squeeze the puck past Kari Ramo in the Lisbon goal. With a one-goal lead, Belfast tightened up its defense in the third period and Lisbon pressed too much, taking uncharacteristic penalties and spending much of the middle of the period shorthanded. Belfast made them pay with a Justin Faulk goal on a powerplay to make it 5-3. And when Sergei Mozyakin scored to make it 6-3 with 9 minutes left, some Lisbon players turned to message-sending rather than playmaking. Wayne Simmonds of Lisbon goaded P.K. Subban into a fight to give the game an ugly ending.
Faulk and Kane led all skaters in points with 3 each. The two teams will remain in Northern Ireland today and play Game 2 there on Friday.