Great day for Danes Nielsen, Andersen

Bratislava 4, Athens 1 – Bratislava had to play their best hockey in order to get points from a tough three-game stretch against three EURO powerhouses, and they came through with flying colors. On Wednesday of last week, the Eagles got a point against Paris, losing 3-2 in a shootout, and they were then able to beat Belfast and Athens in their next two games to give them 5 out of a possible 6 points against the three big dogs. On Sunday, Bratislava demolished the Greeks, out-shooting them 47-28 and leading the game from its first minute on. Frans Nielsen, a Dane who was a draft day bargain for Bratislava, was the top offensive player in the game with a goal, two assists and 6 shots on goal. Nielsen is in the fifth year of a $525,000 per year contract. He has been well worth the small investment. He played 82 games in each of his first four seasons as a second-or third-line center and he has produced between 45 and 62 points per year. He has always had roughly 40 more takeaways than giveaways per season, but his minus plus-minus ratings have had seen him be demoted to the fourth line this season and he was even scratched for two games. His play against Athens probably secures him a lineup spot for a long time, however.

Geneva 2, Zurich 1 – The Generals were outshot 38-22 but left Zurich with a win, thanks to goalie Frederik Andersen. One goal was scored in each period, and Andersen gave up the first when Season 4 goal king Ilya Kovalchuk blistered a shot past him while Geneva was shorthanded. But the Danish goalie slammed the door shut tight the rest of the game, giving his teammates a chance to tie and later win the game. Nick Foligno and Rickard Wallin combined on a goal in the second period and rookie Sergei Mozyakin scored the game-winner a period later.

Gothenburg 3, Munich 2 – Goalies Cory Schneider of Munich and Pekka Rinne of Gothenburg were busy boys Sunday, facing a total of 80 shots. Rinne made 46 saves and got the win. The game featured three firsts for Gothenburg players. Chris Legge was called up for the game and he scored on his first shot to tie the game at 1-1 in the first period. Rookie Linus Klasen assisted on the tally to give him his first point in the league. After a scoreless second period, off-season trade acquisition Kevin Dallman scored his first goal as a Devil while Gothenburg was on the powerplay. Damian Brunner tied the game for Munich, but Jordan Eberle came through with his 9th goal with just under 5 minutes to play. Brunner and Dire Wolf teammate Dany Heatley both had 6 shots to lead all players. The game was a relatively rough one. Gothenburg had 33 hits to Munich’s 27 and Frazer McLaren of the Devils bloodied Munich’s Michael Sauer in a fight.

Helsinki 4, Copenhagen 1 – Jokerit penalty killers Brad Marchand and Ville Peltonen came through with shorthanded goals to snuff out a short-lived Copenhagen lead and help their team win at home. Helsinki kept the pressure on Trident rookie goalie Andres De La Garma the whole game and beat him twice more in the final period as free agent pickups Thomas Vanek and former Trident Derek Roy both capitalized on turnovers and scored unassisted goals.

Paris 7, Prague 5 – The Prague Wolf Pack has another long streak going and they wish they didn’t. After an exciting start to the season, the team from the Czech Republic lost their 8th straight game Sunday. Paris was led by Russian forwards Evgeny Malkin and Alexander Semin who scored 4 points apiece. Season 4 MVP Alex Pietrangelo had 8 shots on goal from his defense position and he scored a goal and had an assist. Nail Yakupov, another Russian, scored his 9th goal of the season for Prague, while teammate Keaton Ellerby had a goal, 3 hits and 4 blocked shots.

Dublin 5, Madrid 4 – The Royals looked good again, but they lost this time to visiting Dublin. Fighting Irish sniper Phil Kessel tied the game twice with his 7th and 8th goals of the year, but it was the third-period goals scored by Jakob Silfverberg and Milan Michalek that did in the hosts. Tomas Plekanec assisted on both goals. Madrid was led by Derek Stepan and Alex Tanguay, who each had 7 shots on Dublin netminder Brian Elliott. Stepan scored twice and Tanguay once. Elliott finished the game with 36 saves. The two teams are both currently in third place in their respective conferences.

Note: Stockholm, which has the second-best home record in the Northern Conference and is currently in fifth place, will get defenseman Olli Maatta back from injury for their next game. Maatta fractured a bone in his ankle while blocking a shot in the second game of the season.

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