Ryan Callahan scored two huge goals to give the Berlin Smurfs the early lead in their series with Athens. The Greeks had a 2-1 lead after an evenly played first period, but Berlin controlled the remainder of the game. Slava Voynov scored for Berlin in the first period, but Athens pulled ahead when Ian White and Erik Condra both scored their first playoff goals. Greek goalie Cam Ward held the lead and turned away more than 20 shots in the second and third periods before Callahan wristed one over the goalie’s shoulder from a difficult angle with 6:20 remaining in regulation time. Just 2 minutes into overtime, Berlin won it when Callahan deflected a Matt Carle point shot off opponent Lubomir Visnovsky’s leg and past Ward. Logan Couture of Berlin assisted on all 3 of his team’s goal and he had 6 shots on goal. Dustin Byfuglien made his presence known for the Greeks, getting off 3 shots and delivering 6 hits. Game 2: The injury to right wing T.J. Oshie might have hurt the Greeks more than most realized. He would have helped keep the Berlin shot total down in Game 1, but regardless, Athens will have to find a way without him to slow the pace and keep Berlin from repeating their 40-shot performance. Meanwhile, the Berliners will continue to focus on consistency and balance. They spread out the offense nicely in Game 1, getting shots from many sources. They also did a lot of hitting against the notoriously tough Greeks. Alex Edler, who played 27 minutes, and Gerhard Unterluggauer had 10 hits between them and the Smurfs will need them to continue to stand up to the Greeks when Athens tries to push Berlin around.
Even Bratislava supporters were shocked by their unlikely 6-5 win in the opening game against the defending champion Rouge Eiffels on Friday. The Eagles got off to a great start, scoring 4 goals in the first 10:40 of the game. They needed every bit of the head start Paris gave them, because when Paris woke up, they outscored Bratislava 5-2 the rest of the way. Winning on the road is something Bratislava is accustomed to. They were a .500 team at home this season, but they won 24 games on the road. The only team in the league that had more away wins was Paris with 25. The story of the game for the winners, if you ask coach Bruce Boudreau, was the abrasive, distracting play of Patrick Kaleta and Antoine Roussel. The two agitators were inserted into the lineup to try to throw off Paris’ skilled players and the tactic seemed to work. Kaleta even scored a goal, his first of the playoffs, to put his team up 4-0. The Eagles’ top defense pair of Zdeno Chara and all-star Paul Martin was plus 4. Ken Kuusk, Paris blueliner, was named the first star in the loss. He collected 3 assists and was plus 3. Game 2: Paris will be all business and won’t be caught off guard like they were when Friday’s game started. The top defense pair of Kris Letang and Alex Pietrangelo were likely to have taken the loss personally since they were both minus 4, and they should be extra motivated. Boudreau said he will make a game-time decision on whether to play Kaleta and Roussel again. Kaleta played 45 games for Bratislava during the regular season and is more likely to play in Game 2. Eagle Martin Erat, who had a goal and 2 assists in Game 1, has taken the team lead in playoff scoring with 9 points in 7 games.