Belfast wins battle of top teams

Belfast 2, Berlin 1 – The top teams from both conferences clashed Wednesday with Belfast beating Berlin by a goal. The game featured good goaltending and relatively clean play. Only three penalties were called in the game and Berlin capitalized on one of them when Ryan Callahan took a pass from behind the net by Logan Couture and blistered a snap shot through Jonathan Quick for the game’s opening goal. The Smurfs outshot Belfast in the first period 11-6 but the champs slowly turned momentum their way. Eight and a half minutes into the second period, Matt Duchene tied the score with his 7th of the season and the teams seemed to be heading toward overtime when Sidney Crosby changed all that. He jabbed in a rebound of an Alexander Ovechkin shot to beat Jimmy Howard and eventually, the Smurfs.

Minsk 5, Oslo 3 – Minsk had to come up with goals late in the game to defeat Oslo in Norway. The Outlaws started well and led 3-1 after the first period, getting goals from Matt D’Agostini, Guillaume Latendresse and Max Talbot. But Minsk scored twice in the second period to tie the game and got two more in the third period. Nick Backstrom scored two of those goals and he now has 25 goals and 50 points this season. The Hussar defense duo of Max Chudinov and Mark Giordano were plus 4.

Bratislava 3, Paris 1 – Bratislava scored three times in a 3-and-a-half-minute stretch of the second period and Marc-Andre Fleury battoned down the hatches in the third period to give the Eagles an upset win over Paris. Second-line center Martin Hanzal had a goal and an assist for Bratislava and teammate Tyler Myers scored his 17th goal of the season, giving him the most of any defensemen in the league. Myers had 25 goals last season to be the highest scoring defenseman in the EURO League.

Copenhagen 4, Stockholm 2 – The Eagles dropped their second contest in two nights when Copenhagen came back from a 2-0 deficit and won in regulation time. Stockholm didn’t looked very good in the loss. They allowed 50 Copenhagen shots on goalie Braden Holtby, who made 46 saves. Joe Pavelski had 10 of those shots for the Tridents and he scored once. The unlikely offensive star of the game was 26-year-old Erik Gustafsson, a defenseman for Copenhagen, who scored two goals and added one assist. The Swede who grew up in Kvisselby, less than 4 hours due north of Stockholm, had 9 points in 50 games before the start of Wednesday’s game. The most distressing part of the game and maybe the season this far for Copenhagen fans and management occurred with 6:35 remaining in the second period when Marcus Foligno of Stockholm elbowed fan favorite Stephen Weiss, sending him crashing to the ice. He had to be removed on a stretcher and may miss up to two months. Weiss, one of the few holdovers in a retooling of the Tridents from last year, leads Copenhagen in assists and is second in scoring to Clarke MacArthur. Foligno, the center of the Eagles’ second line, is a candidate for league discipline after the match penalty and injury.

St. Petersburg 5, Zurich 4 – After a tense third period, overtime brought a sudden end to the game when Jonathan Huberdeau fired a wrist shot off the right goal post and in past Zurich goalie Roberto Luongo. The Red Stars entered the third period hoping to hold on to a 4-3 lead, but just 6 seconds in, the game was tied thanks to a fluttering change-up shot by Michal Frolik of Zurich. Brad Richards had 8 shots on goal, 4 hits, and a goal and an assist to lead St. Petersburg. But Dmitri Kalinin was chosen as the game’s first star after he put an impressive plus 5 rating on his score line to go with 2 assists. The win allowed Petrograd to avenge a one-goal they suffered to the Lions just two nights earlier.

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