Biron, Berglund lead Minsk to win

Minsk 5, Helsinki 4 (OT-SO) – The Helsinki Jokerit seemed to have momentum on their side in overtime against the Minsk Hussars, and then Brad Marchand took a questionable hooking penalty, putting his team shorthanded for almost the remainder of the OT. Goalie Henrik Lundquist held off Minsk and gave his team a chance to win it in a shootout, but it was the visiting team’s veteran backup goalie – Martin Biron – who emerged as the big star. Biron stopped both shooters he faced – one of them being Marchand – and Minsk won the extra point in the standings. Biron stopped 44 shots before the shootout. Minsk forward Patrik Berglund had the best night of skater, with a 3-goal hat trick and an assist. Two young Hussar defensemen also had banner days, as Ilya Nikulin blocked 6 shots and registered 4 hits, while Minnesota-native Nick Leddy blocked 5 shots and had 3 hits. The 24-year-old Nikulin, by the way, is a shot-blocking expert. He is among the top 35 in blocks in the EURO, and he has played about half as many games as everyone else in that group. He averages more than 2 blocks per game. Helsinki, which outshot Minsk 48-34 got two points from Jack Johnson (1 goal, 1 assist) and Marchand (2 assists). Uncharacteristically, Chris Phillips led everyone in shots on goal with 7 for the Jokerit. He also blocked 3 shots and had 5 hits, which are numbers more in line with his reputation. The game was the first in a Helsinki uniform for Jarome Iginla, who came to the team earlier in the day by way of a trade with St. Petersburg. Helsinki sent Martin St. Louis and a third-round draft pick to the western Russian city. Iginla (1 assist, 3 shots, 2 hits) said, “I felt good out there. It’s going to take a bit to get the chemistry, I’m sure, but I like what I see on this team. Anytime you have a goalie like Henrik, you have a chance to win every game.”

Gothenburg 4, Bratislava 3 – Adam Henrique scored two goals, including the game-winner with 5:20 left in the third period of a game marked by tension and rough play. One-time NHL teammates Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara went toe-to-toe in a first period fight, which was a prelude to a chippy second period that saw a roughing, a diving and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called. The third period wasn’t too much quieter as normally mild-mannered Teemu Selanne of Gothenburg rammed Bratislava’s Christian Ehrhoff head-first into the boards, resulting in a 5-minute major penalty. Ehrhoff’s teammate Cam Janssen had some unkind words for the Finnish legend after the game, saying, “Just because he’s 101 years old, he thinks he can do (stuff) like that and no one’s gonna go after him.” Selanne stills has no trouble competing against players half his age. He has 9 goals and 17 points in 22 games and is 6th on the Devils in scoring. He is also second on the team in shots taken. In response to Janssen’s comments, he said “101 huh? I bet I end the season with more points than he has.” Gothenburg defensemen Stephane Robidas and Daniel Girardi were major factors in the Bratislava game.  They were plus 4 together and Robidas scored a goal. The two teams will play again only once this season, on Jan. 6. Both games on this year’s schedule are in Gothenberg.

Zurich 4, Belfast 3 (OT-SO) – The Zurich Lions took a 3-1 lead into the second period and then took 8 straight trips to the penalty box. Fortunately, the Giants powerplay didn’t make them pay for it with a loss. Defensemen Barrett Jackman and Marc Staal, along with Finnish forward Jussi Jokinen scored for the Lions, while Rick Nash, Tony Martensson and Matthieu Perreault scored for the Giants. The game went into overtime and then a shootout, where Nash scored for Belfast and Ilya Kovalchuk and Drew Stafford scored for the Lions.

Edinburgh 5, Dublin 2 – After Milan Michalek and Phil Kessel scored goals to put Dublin up 2-0 halfway through regulation time, the nearly 14,000 Irishmen in attendance foresaw an easy win over their Scotch visitors. They better check the fore-eyesight. Edinburgh rattled off four goals in the next 14 minutes and added an empty-net goal to leave with a win. James Neal scored the go-ahead and insurance goals early in the third period. One of Neal’s goals was on the powerplay and Dublin took five penalties in the end of the second and beginning of the third to open the door for the Capitals.

Madrid 3, Bern 1 – Madrid outshot the visiting Bears 39-26 and were able to get 3 pucks past Mike Smith while their goalie, Tomas Vokoun flirted with a shutout. Jeff Carter, Joe Pavelski and Brian Gionta scored goals to give Madrid a 3-0 that they carried into the third period. With 2:29 left, Andy McDonald finally cracked Vokoun and got Bern on the scoreboard with his 4th goal of the season. Each team was 0 for 5 on the powerplay and two players – Bern defensemen Ron Hainsey and Timo Kimonen – had 5 hits each.

Munich 4, Frankfurt 3 – The Fox won a battle of German teams, thanks mainly to Milan Hejduk who put his team in front 3-2 in the second and then 4-3 in the third with a powerplay goal. Shane O’Brien took two of the four penalties Frankfurt took in the third period and it was during his second sentence in the penalty box than Hejduk scored the game-winner. Goalie Jan Laco of Frankfurt stopped 35 shots in a losing effort, while Munich’s Jon Quick saved 30. Munich is the best team in the Southern Conference, holding a 3-point lead over Zurich for that claim. They are also second overall behind Copenhagen.

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