Home ice advantage was evident Monday as all four home teams won their games. The home team has won all 12 of the games played so far in the Southern Conference playoffs.
Bern 3, Zurich 0 – Zurich leads series 2-1
A new venue and a new netminder meant a new result for the Bern Bears on Monday. Cam Talbot shutout Zurich and the Bears cut into the Lions’ series lead. The first period was scoreless and even, with both sides getting off 9 shots on goal. The Bears took control in the second period. Johan Franzen broke the ice nearly 4 minutes into the period and Zurich basically wilted. After the first period, Bern outshot Zurich 23-8, and the Bears scored twice more to make a comeback really difficult. The team played well in front of Talbot and didn’t give the high-flying Lions too many looks at the Bern goal. In fact, Zurich’s Patrick Kane and Ilya Kovalchuk both failed to get any shots on Talbot, the young goalie who was taken 11th in the last draft and who played instead of veteran Mike Smith. It was Talbot’s first playoff game. Franzen, 35, led everyone in shots with 6 and he scored two goals. Franzen scored 22 goals during the regular season and now has 11 goals in 26 career playoff goals. Tobias Enstrom assisted on both Franzen goals Monday. Bern coach Mike Babcock has a decision to make for Game 4 in the low-scoring series: Talbot or Smith? The two Swiss teams have combined for only 10 goals in the three games. By contrast, the two German playoff teams scored 12 goals in just one game of their series.
Madrid 3, Paris 2 (OT) – Paris leads series 2-1
Monday’s game in Spain seemed to be broken into four separate stories, but the one where Brandon Prust scored in overtime to win it for the underdog Royals will be the story remembered most. In the first period, Madrid goalie Robin Lehner was definitely the hero. He stopped all 18 Rouge Eiffel shots including three in a row from point-blank range during a flurry in front of his net. In the second period, the story was Madrid’s powerplay. Gabriel Landeskog, Derek Stepan and Olli Jokinen each had two points in the period. The third period featured the inevitable Paris comeback. Joffrey Lupul scored four minutes into the period to cut Madrid’s lead in half and 10 minutes after that, a Mike Ribeiro laser tied the contest and caused a lot of Spanish swear words to fly around the arena. In overtime, the end came quickly. After Lehner stopped 2 Paris shots, Prust scored on the Royals’ first OT shot. He was spotted to the side of the net by Francois Beauchemin, who faked a shot and slipped it to Prust.
Frankfurt 3, Berlin 2 – Berlin leads series 2-1
The Smurfs were rolling along with their sights set on a 3-0 series lead, but the Inferno pulled the rug out from under them. Berlin was outshooting Frankfurt 27-11 and up 2-1 on the scoreboard when the third period began, but five minutes into the period, the combination of Steven Stamkos, Alexander Steen and Drew Doughty connected for the second time in the game and Frankfurt knotted the score. Four and a half minutes later, disaster struck for Berlin when goalie Jimmy Howard partially fanned on an attempt to pass the puck up the boards and Chris Higgins of Frankfurt stole the puck and put it into an open net behind the flailing goalie. Kari Ramo held the fort for the Inferno the rest of the way and Stamkos and crew will have a chance to tie the series at home on Wednesday. Frankfurt defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Doughty each had 3 shot blocks and a plus 2 rating in the game.
Bratislava 6, Athens 2 – Athens leads series 2-1
Brent Sutter made a couple of lineup changes for Game 3 of the series and one paid off in a big way for Bratislava. Sutter asked minor leaguer Luke Adam, a center, to play the left wing on the fourth line and Adam wound up being named the first star of the game. Bratislava fans will always consider native Slovakians Zdeno Chara, Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky their favorite Eagles, but Adam is right up there now after his heroics Monday. Adam and Wei Yang Zhang, the other wing on the fourth line, both finished with a goal and two assists. Sutter also inserted Christian Ehrhoff on the blueline instead of Barrett Jackman, and Ehrhoff blocked 2 shots, delivered 3 hits and got into a fight with Staffan Kronwall. The Eagles’ line of Milan Gulas, Lauri Korpikoski and Andreas Jamtin played well for Suitter’s team, contributing two goals en route to a 4-0 Bratislava lead. Athens outshot Bratislava 37-33, but former Greek Corey Crawford came through with 35 saves. David Backes had 7 shots on goal and assisted on both Greek goals.