Nick Kronwall, Backes come up big for Athens
Athens leads Munich in series, 2-0
For the second straight playoff series, The Athens Greeks have opened with two away wins. They return home this evening trying to extend the lead over Munich. In the series’ first game, a powerplay slapshot by Niclas Kronwall won it late in the third period, while a monstrous performance by David Backes was the deciding factor in Game 2. Backes scored 3 goals on 9 shots in the game, with linemates Jason Pominville and Scott Hartnell getting 3 assists each. They did most of their damage against Munich’s line of Joe Thornton, Patrik Elias and Milan Hejduk, and it will be interesting to see if coach JohnTortorella matches the two lines at home when he has the advantage of making the last change. Michael Ryder scored in both games this series and he, Backes and T.J. Oshie are tied for the team lead in goals this playoffs with 6 each. Three players on other teams have 8 goals. Four of the top 5 plus-minus players in the playoffs are Greeks. Munich will be looking for a little better goaltending from Jonathan Quick and some more pressure from all four forward lines who have not really shown what they can do yet.
Paris scores 3 in 23 seconds of Game 2
Paris leads Geneva in series, 2-0
In the conference’s other series, Paris beat Geneva by a little then they beat them by a lot for a 2-0 lead with the series heading to Geneva for two games. In Game 1, shots were dead even at 34-34, but Geneva took 10 penalties to Paris’ 4. Geneva’s Marion Gaborik scored twice in a losing cause. Corey Perry and Kris Letang gave the French team a 2-0 lead in the first period, but a powerplay goal by Joffrey Lupul in the second turned out to be the winner. In Game 2, Paris broke the game open in the second period with five goals, the first three of them coming in a span of 23 seconds. Lupul scored twice in the game and he and Perry both have 5 goals in the playoffs. Geneva goalie Kari Lehtonen was pulled in the second period and Sergei Bobrovsky replaced him. Legend Nicklas Lidstrom scored the Generals’ third goal and it was his first of the playoffs in what could be his last season. Geneva has an injury to deal with as well, as first-year defenseman Karel Rachunek is out with a groin injury suffered in the second period of Game 2. Look for him to be replaced by Greg Zanon, who played in 20 games and was a plus 10 last year during the Generals march to the first ever EURO Cup win. Zanon played exactly half a season this year for Geneva.
Keith injury makes Moscow comeback harder
St, Petersburg leads Moscow in series, 2-1
In the Northern Conference, the Battle of Russia has seen the sides trading punches all the way, with St. Petersburg up 2-1. Each game has been close thus far. Jaroslv Halak of Moscow shined the brightest in Game 2, stopping 39 shots to steal the win for his teammates. In that game, defenseman Anton Stralman helped by blocking 6 Red Star shots. The big moment in Game three came in the third period with the score tied 1-1. Jonathan Huberdeau grabbed a loose puck and skated deep into the Moscow end. He had the puck along the boards and appeared to be killing time when he suddenly spotted teammate Marc-Eduoard Vlasic at the blue Line. Vlasic took a long shot that Halak stopped with his blocker, but the rebound went to Viktor Stalberg who had a half-empty net to shoot for and he cashed in with 15:32 remaining. Pekka Rinne was strong for St. Petersburg, stopping all but one of Moscow’s 24 shots. Moscow led 1-0 on Andrew Ladd’s 8th of the playoffs, but a short time later, Moscow veteran blueliner Duncan Keith suffered a serious arm injury and left the game. Both of St. Petersburg’s goals came after the Keith injury. He will be out for the remainder of the series. In his place, Moscow has called up 36-year-old Bryce Salvador, who scored 12 points in 55 regular season games and was a plus 9. Stralman, Kevin Dallman and Kyle Quincey will get more special teams minutes as a result of the Keith injury.
Copenhagen in control of series after one-goal wins
Copenhagen leads Edinburgh in series, 3-0
Copenhagen has a commanding 3-0 lead in the series after two one-goal wins to follow up their 5-0 win in the series opener. The winning goal in Game 2 came about halfway through the first overtime period, when the Tridents worked the puck around the Edinburgh zone and got it back to Alex Goligoski, who wired home his second of the playoffs. Dany Heatley, who has played very well for the Tridents, picked up an assist on the goal along with Goligoski’s defense partner, Kevin Shattenkirk. Heatley and Alexander Ovechkin scored first-period goals for Copenhagen in Game 3, but Edinburgh used the next period to tie it up, getting tallies from James Neal (his 8th) and Clarke MacArthur (3rd). A little more than 3 minutes into the third period, Teddy Purcell came up with his third playoff goal to give the Tridents the lead again and no other goals were scored in the game. Copenhagen defensemen Andrej Meszaros played the whole game Sunday morning but it was announced afterward that he will sit out for a while with an upper body injury.