Tonight’s could be pivotal game of series

It’s a big day in Lisbon during the biggest week of the franchise’s history.

Lisbon has a chance to even the Finals series 2-2 with a win tonight on home ice. A Giants victory, however, would give the Northern Irish team a 3-1 series lead and Lisbon would be faced with the monumental task of winning three straight games, including two on Belfast ice.

Lisbon kind of got ripped off in Game 2 of the series. They continued to play an uncharacteristic undisciplined style of hockey, but they really had their legs going, out-shooting Belfast 45-20. Still, when Gabriel Bourque flipped a deflected puck over a sprawled Kari Ramo with 10 minutes left in regulation, they were trailing somehow by a 4-3 score. And thanks to the magnificence of Jonathan Quick in the Belfast goal, Bourque’s goal was the last of the contest and Belfast was up 2-0 in the series. Ryan Kesler scored twice for Lisbon in the game and John Tavares once on one of his 11 shots on goal. Bourque, who also assisted on the first goal of the game scored by defenseman Micki Dupont, was named the game’s second star, behind first star Quick.

In Portugal for Game 3, Lisbon picked up where they left off, out-skating and out-shooting the Giants (42-25) and this time, they got the victory they deserved: a 5-1 win. It was Belfast this time playing uncharacteristic hockey, as they were whistled for just one penalty in the game. Tavares, meanwhile, stayed sharp, as he and linemates Steven Stamkos and Matt Moulson fired 18 shots on Quick and scored twice. Veterans Kesler and Marian Hossa also played well, each producing a goal and an assist.

Both teams are completely rested and healthy for tonight’s game.

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