Belfast made an emphatic statement in Game 5 of the EURO Cup finals in their bid to win the grand prize for the third time in four years. Matt Duchene, who played a major role in the Giants’ outstanding season, was a key weapon Thursday, firing 9 shots on goal and ending up with two goals and an assist. He scored 48 goals and 106 points during the regular season, and at age 26, it looks like he could remain a dominant force for the Giants for the next several years. In Game 5, Duchene’s linemates – Nathan MacKinnon and Ondrej Palat – chipped in with 9 more shots, a goal and four assists.
Although Belfast seemed to be grinding Lisbon into the ice – they out-shot the Portuguese 48-19 by the end of it – the game was suddenly tied 3-3 with the second period winding down, thanks to two quick powerplay goals by Lisbon’s Jared Spurgeon and Wayne Simmonds. But an unlikely hero emerged not long after when Vladimir Tarasenko rifled in a shot from the top of right faceoff circle and Belfast regained the lead for good. The fourth-liner Tarasenko has three goals in these playoffs after scoring just once in 82 regular season games.
In the third period, the Giants simply stomped out Lisbon. Shots were 15-4 in favor of the home team and two more goals made it a 6-3 final. Duchene and Evander Kane did the damage for Belfast. A major factor in the win was Belfast’s ability to keep the reins on Lisbon’s star line of John Tavares, Steven Stamkos and Matt Moulson, who were held to just one shot each. The lone bright spot for Lisbon was a decisive fight win by Troy Brouwer, who caught Belfast heavyweight Micki Dupont with several good right hands before the two tumbled to the ice.
Belfast and Lisbon travel south today for Game 6 in Lisbon on Saturday.