Stockholm 2, Minsk 1 – The high-flying Minsk Hussars took one on the chin Friday on home ice with the Stockholm Eagles jumping out to a 2-0 lead and holding on until the end. Minsk had won 9 straight games and 11 of their last 12 before the loss to Stockholm. A Zac Rinaldo-Zach Bogosian fight was the only highlight of the first period and it seemed to put Minsk players in an ultra-aggressive mood. The Hussars seemed to be more worried about hitting than passing and they took 4 penalties and only 5 shots in the second period. By the time the third period began, Stockholm had a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Mike Green and Jeff Carter. A Renat Mamashev major penalty in the third period really hurt Minsk’s attempt for a comeback, but star forward Nicklas Backstrom was able to slip a puck past Stockholm goalie Braden Holtby to make it interesting and tense over the final 2:20 of the game. Pavel Datsyuk had assists on both Stockholm goals.
Zurich 5, Athens 4 – Athens goalie Cam Ward gave up four goals in the first period as Zurich toppled the visiting Greeks. Two of the Lions first-period goals were shorthanded tallies and the other two came off the stick of the EURO’s best goal scorer. Ilya Kovalchuk now has 47 goals. With 6 games remaining, Kovalchuk has a good chance of hitting the 50-goal plateau. The league record for goals in a season is 56, set by Bobby Ryan when he played with Dublin in Season 2. The top offensive performance in Friday’s game was turned in by Athens right winger Jason Pominville, whose 1 goal and 3 assists were the main reason the Greeks were able to mount a comeback that unfortunately for them fell a goal short. Kovalchuk and Athens’ Ryan O’Reilly each scored 3 points. Athens is tied with Paris at 103 points atop the Southern Conference standings and each team has 6 games to play. Zurich is still shooting for 4th place in the conference. They have a game in hand against both Bratislava and Bern and if they are able to turn that game into 2 points, they will jump over both teams and into fourth.
Paris 6, Helsinki 1 – The Jokerit outshot host Paris 28-9 over the final two periods. Sounds good for them, eh? The problem is they forgot to start playing until the game was 20 minutes old. In the first period, Paris whomped ’em, getting 22 shots on Henrik Lundqvist while Paris goalie Tuukka Rask faced just one shot. By the end of the first period, Paris was up 5-0 and texting their wives and girlfriends about dinner plans. Eiffel defenseman Jason Krog actually brought a paperback book onto the bench for the second period. Paris’ 6 goals were scored by 6 different players and 4 Rouge Eiffel players had multi-point games, led by Evgeny Malkin’s 3. Malkin also blocked 3 Helsinki shots. Three Paris defensemen had spectacular games. Ken Kuusk, Kris Letang and Alex Pietrangelo all scored 2 points, were plus two and at least 5 hits. Kuusk had 6. Nerius Alisauskas was probably the best player in a Jokerit sweater, dishing out 6 hits and blocking 3 shots.
London 2, Dublin 1 – Marc-Andre Bergeron scored his first goal since Season 1 as he helped the Dons upend Dublin. The 34-year-old Bergeron had played parts of two seasons in Oslo and a game with Helsinki last season before landing in London. He has seen limited time with the Dons – just 13 games – and he now has a goal and 3 assists this season. His tally opened the scoring Friday with 7:12 left in the first period and the score remaining 1-0 until 13 seconds into the third period when Jimmie Ericsson scored his 9th to make it 2-0 London. Ericsson and Devin Setoguchi each had 2-point nights for the Dons. Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves to get the win and only lost his shutout on a late power play when Phil Kessel scored his 40th of the season. Kessel is the 6th player in the league to reach 40 goals this season. He scored 42 last year.
Milan 3, Prague 2 – Goalie Alex Stalock of Milan earned first star honors by stopping 33 Prague shots and helping the Guerrero beat the Siamese Cats. With about 12 minutes left in the game, Prague had a 2-1 lead, but Marcus Kruger tied the contest with his 22nd of the season and Jaden Schwartz won it for Milan by notching his 13th of the year with 5:19 to play. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Prague had a goal and an assist and was the only multi-point player in the game, while his teammate, Martin Ruzicka had a goal and 5 shots on goal to earn third star honors. Mark Letestu of Milan had 5 shots on goal in just 6 minutes, but he failed to score a point. The loss adds to Prague’s disappointment in the last week. The Cats had made a thrilling run at the 8th and final playoff spot, but their chances seem remote now. They trail Geneva by 4 points and the Generals have two more games left to play than the Cats do.
Gothenburg 2, Bratislava 1 – Eric Staal scored in overtime to end a defensive struggle in Sweden. Bratislava outshot Gothenburg 30-23, but the only goal Pekka Rinne would allow was a power play goal in the first period by Tyler Myers. Gothenburg tied the game in the third period on Blake Wheeler’s 20th, and in overtime, Zach Parise beat Zdeno Chara down the right side and centered a pass to Staal, who one-timed it past Paul Martin’s left leg and then under the crossbar to beat Corey Crawford. John Carlson of Gothenburg was a difference-maker in the game. He had an assist, was plus 2, and he had 2 blocked shots and 7 hits. Both teams are currently holding down 4th place in their respective conferences.