The 16 teams in the EURO playoffs have all played two games and in 7 of the 8 series, the higher-seeded teams are enjoying 2-0 leads. All the series will shift locations today.
Zurich 2, Bern 1 – Zurich leads series 2-0
In a very close series, the Lions have a razor-thin edge in statistics but a nice lead in games. On Saturday, Zurich scored two first-period goals and then played good enough defensively the rest of the way. Jussi Jokinen, a wing on the Lions’ second line has scored in both games of the series and his tally Saturday held up as the game-winner. Patrick Kane set up Patrice Bergeron for the game’s first goal and Bergeron now has 3 points in the series to lead the team. Bern fought back and came close to tying the game. After a scoreless second period, Bern got on the scoreboard while they were on the power play. Radim Vrbata scored his second goal in as many playoff games, giving the Bears 14:01 to try to tie the game. With about 11 minutes left, Pascal Dupuis rang one of the goal post behind Zurich goalie Roberto Luongo, and about 7 minutes later, Henrik Zetterberg hit the crossbar, and late in the game, with the Bern goalie pulled, Luongo made a save on a long Tobias Enstrom shot and the rebound went into a 7-person mixer in front of the crease. It bounced around from skate to skate and stick to body – the home town fans gasping in unison – before Luongo dove into the pile and covered it for a face-off. Luongo came away as the game’s first star and Patrick Sharp of Zurich, who led everyone in shots with 7, was the second star. Bern has a host of strong defensive forwards who will be looking to counter the offensively talented Lions with some favorable line match-ups at home in the next two games.
Athens 4, Bratislava 3 – Athens leads series 2-0
The second period of a testy game was the difference and the Greeks will travel to Bratislava with a 2-0 series lead. Stefan Kronwall squared off with the Chinese Lucic – Wei Yang Zhang – and it was the second fight a game that was already wild and close. The score was 2-2 at the time, with Athens gaining momentum. But then Tim Gleason, who was in the first fight, took his rough play too far and took a five-minute major penalty. The Athens crowd sensed that the penalty stifled the growing momentum and there was a lot of grumbling going on in the stands. Then Erik Condra and David Backes produced what could be a huge moment in the series. Penalty killer Ryan O’Reilly got to a loose puck and passed it to Condra, who had just stepped onto the ice to replace a tired T.J. Oshie. Condra moved the puck into the Eagles’ zone, held it along the boards and then suddenly David Backes, who had just changed for O’Reilly, raced into the slot. Condra got him the puck with a quick pass and Backes ripped a wrist shot to score. It resulted in a shorthanded goal involving three forwards on the scoring play – a rarity – and it gave Athens a 3-2 lead. It also boosted the Greeks for the rest of the period and they outshot Bratislava 17-9 in the second. Bratislava tied it in the third period, but Jason Pominville scored for Athens with 2:31 to clinch it. Dustin Byfuglien of Athens had a good game. He was plus 3 with 6 hits and 3 blocked shots. Both teams have some banged up/fatigues players and Bratislava has made two roster moves to get some fresh legs in for Game 3. In games 1 and 2, veteran Christian Ehrhoff was benched in favor of the physically stronger Barrett Jackman to play against the beefy Greeks, but Ehrhoff is in for Game 3 and Jackman sits. And youngster Luke Adam, a center with only 15 games’ experience, was quickly converted to left wing to give Shawn Matthias a rest. Adam is slow, but he plays a power game and has decent puck skills.
Paris 4, Madrid 2 – Paris leads series 2-0
The Royals were hanging with the Rouges Eiffels in the middle of the second period – the score was 1-1 at the time – before Alexander Semin delivered two gut punches. Semin scored on Robin Lehner with 9:26 left in the period and then he scored again 4 and a half minutes later. He has 3 goals through two playoff games. Both teams scored in the third period, but Paris ended with a 2-goal cushion and huge advantage in shots (46-21). Evgeny Malkin also scored two goals for Paris. The Eiffels also out-hit Madrid 33-22. The series moves to Spain for the next two games and Madrid coach Dan Bylsma will be looking for a favorable line match-up for the versatile first line of Derek Stepan, Gabriel Landeskog and R.J. Umberger. Bylsma would dearly love to extend the series to seven games, when he might be able to insert currently injured Jordan Staal. Paris has a new injury to deal with. Kyle Turris was hurt Saturday and will miss much of the series. Sergei Zinojev, 28, who was a regular in the Paris lineup last year and during their Cup championship season, but who has been left out of the lineup recently, has been called up. Zinovjev is a plus 45 through 198 regular season games and an even plus-minus player through 44 career playoff games. Turns, 25, enjoyed his best season this year with 31 points and a plus 32 rating.
Berlin 7, Frankfurt 5 – Berlin leads series 2-0
Offense was on display in Germany on Saturday as the teams combined for 12 goals and 4 power play goals. Berlin jumped out to a 3-0 lead, with Ryan Callahan collecting two assists before the game was 6 minutes old. But Frankfurt worked its way back to tie the game 3-3 six minutes into the second period. Defenseman fill-in Ladislav Smid scored for Berlin, but Alexander Steen scored his second of the game to tie it for the Inferno. The Smurfs took the lead again when Logan Couture scored his second of the game, but Frankfurt’s Dougie Hamilton countered 5 minutes later. But after Matthew Carle, another defenseman, scored with 12:20 left, Frankfurt didn’t have an answer. Slava Voynov scored an empty-net goal in the final minute to clinch the win for Berlin. Callahan finished the day with 4 assists. Three of his teammates and four Inferno players had 2-point games.