Recap of Sunday game
Minsk 2, Athens 1 – Even with backup goalie Anton Khudobin in goal, the Minsk Hussars looked in control at home against one of the league’s top teams. Minsk outshot Athens 36-17 and the game was scoreless until the last minute of the second period, when Minsk’s Thomas Powell set up Gustav Nyquist in the slot for his 19th goal of the season. The Greeks tied the game in the third period’s opening minute, when David Backes fed Dustin Byfuglien in front of the net, but Minsk scored again with 2 minutes remaining, Powell getting his 18th of the season. Minsk, Gothenburg and Edinburgh are in a virtual tie for third in the Northern Conference and 6th overall. Athens is in third place overall.
London 5, Gothenburg 2 – A strong second period helped the Dons to an upset win in Sweden. Taylor Hall, Marco Scandella and Jake Gardiner all had 2 points for London and when Hall scored unassisted for his 30th of the season, it made the score 4-0 with a little more than 5 minutes to play in the second period. Marc-Andre Fleury of London defeated Anders Lindback in the goalie battle. The Dons are clinging to the 8th and final playoff spot in the Northern Conference right now.
Belfast 4, Copenhagen 1 – The Giants fired 43 shots at Copenhagen starter Brian Elliott en route to a 4-1 win in Copenhagen. Nathan MacKinnon scored the only goal of the first period and teammates P.K. Subban and James Neal were only ones to score in the second. Neal added a late goal and Devan Dubnyk was nearly perfect in goal for Belfast in a game that featured 15 minor penalties. Subban also blocked 4 Copenhagen shots. MacKinnon is third among EURO rookies in goals with 16 and his 36 points put him fourth in the league in scoring behind Mink’s Gustav Nyquist (42 points), teammate Ondrej Palat (42) and Helsinki’s Boone Jenner (38).
Geneva 4, Prague 2 – The Generals played an efficient, disciplined game to come up with 2 points at home. They were outshot 28-23 by the Cats, but they only shorthanded for 1:18 in the game. Defenseman Ilya Nikulin scored his 10th goal of the season, added an assist, delivered 4 hits and was voted as the game’s first star. Mike Fisher, Steve Ott and Patrick Marleau also scored for Geneva, who are now a point behind eighth-place Munich with 20 games remaining in the regular season. Alex Galchenyuk and Brian Little tallied for Prague.
Zurich 2, Bern 1 – The Lions beat the Bears, outshooting them 27-19. In the final minute of the first period, Zurich broke the scoreless tie on a goal by Patrice Bergeron who converted a pass from below the goal line by Patrick Kane. The teams went into the final period with the visitors up 1-0 and Bern shot themselves in the foot by taking three quick penalties. On the second powerplay chance of the period, and the first of two straight with Bern’s Ron Hainsey in the penalty box, Zurich gained a 2-0 lead thanks to a screened wrist shot by defenseman Janne Niskala. Bern managed to get a powerplay goal of their own with three minutes to play, when Mika Zibanejad scored his 18th of the season, but Roberto Luongo and the Lions were air tight in preserving their 1-goal lead from then on. The game could be a considered a 4-point game because both teams are virtually tied for 4th place in the Southern Conference. Bern is a point ahead of Zurich, but Zurich has played one less game. If the season ended today, the two teams would play each other in the first round of the playoffs and Bern would have home ice advantage.
Injuries: Fifteen players – 8 of them defensemen – are injured in the EURO League right now, some of them with significant maladies that could affect the standings. Minsk will have to do without defenseman Kris Russell for nearly three weeks, while Jussi Jokinen is out of Zurich’s lineup for about 5-7 games. Keith Yandle of Dublin, Nerius Alisauskas of Helsinki and Matt Greene of Geneva, all defensemen, are out of action for 1-2 weeks.
Tonight: Paris at Berlin. Evgeny Malkin is the Smurfs’ Public Enemy No. 1 after he scored 4 points against them in a 6-4 Paris win and then scored a hat trick in the Eiffels’ only previous visit to Berlin, a shootout win for the Frenchmen. The game features the league’s no. 2 and 5 place teams. The top team, Moscow, will battle the 8th place Capitals in Edinburgh. An Edinburgh win could see them vault into 6th place and could drop Moscow to 2nd if Malkin … er, Paris … beats Berlin again.