Moscow has broken serve, winning 5-4 Tuesday to become the first visiting team to win a game in the EURO Cup Finals series and Spartak is now one win away from the Cup. That big moment could come Thursday in Russia. But Paris faced two elimination games last series against Athens, and they responded with two 6-goal performances and two wins.
Anze Kopitar, who led Moscow in scoring during the regular season but was in coach Glen Gulutzan’s dog house early in the playoffs, scored the biggest goal of the series so far when he took a goal-mouth pass from Chris Higgins, held onto the puck as he drifted to the left, and tried to draw Paris goalie Tuukka Rask out of the net a bit to reveal a hole. Then Kopitar made a quick reverse of direction and on his backhand, tucked the puck into the right side of the net 16:24 into sudden-death overtime. Dozens of Paris fans hurled food items like croissants, crepes and escargot after the goal – and earlier in the game – in the direction of referees Radek Kormanik of the Czech Republic and Knut Carlsberg of Switzerland. Paris was whistled for 8 minor penalties in regulation time and then 3 more in overtime. Moscow didn’t make a single trip to the penalty box Tuesday. The 22 minutes of powerplay time led to a huge disparity in shots on goal, with Moscow holding a 57-29 advantage at the end. But the Paris penalty killers were god-like, repelling Moscow on all 11 powerplays and somehow, Paris nearly came out of it on top.
Moscow’s Jannik Hansen scored in the first period and Aleksey Morozov tallied in the second period to give Spartak a 2-0 lead as the third period began. The offensive beast that is Paris struck when play resumed in the third period. Lee Stempniak, Joffrey Lupul and David Perron fired three pucks past Jaro Halak in a span of 50 seconds, but Moscow’s Andrew Ladd scored to tie it 3-3 just a few seconds later.
Paris’ leading scorer, Evgeny Malkin, scored his 7th of the playoffs after taking a pass from Corey Perry and the Eiffels had the lead with 8:10 to play. But the next time Paris’ big guns were out there, they made a mistake and Moscow capitalized. Anton Stralman intercepted a Malkin pass to Alex Pietrangelo and the Spartak defenseman sent Alex Ponikarovsky and Derek Roy off on a 2-on-Kris Letang. The Moscow players passed back and forth three time and then Roy gave up the puck for a fourth pass and Ponikarovsky ripped it through Rask’s five hole with 4:21 showing on the clock. In overtime, Rask was all but helpless, thanks mainly to the three penalties and Moscow outshot Paris 10-2 before Kopitar’s game-winner.