Minsk 5, Belfast 1 – In what most observers thought would be a titanic clash of EURO giants, Tuesday’s Belfast at Minsk game was anything but. The Hussars demolished the Giants 5-1, outshooting them 48-19 in the process. The two-time defending champs have won only 4 times in their last 9 games. Still, there seems to be no need to press the panic button in Belfast. Before that 9-game stretch, the Giants reeled off 10 straight victories and they remain within striking distance of the four teams ahead of them in the Northern Conference standings. One of those teams is Minsk, which is riding a 4-game win streak and tied with Paris for the top spot in the league. Minsk is also the league’s best defensive team, allowing just 2.30 goals and 23.6 shots per game. The Hussars showed off their defensive ability early in Tuesday’s game, allowing just 3 Belfast shots in the first period. Before that period was over, the Hussars had a 3-0 lead on two powerplay goals by Patrick Kane and Gustav Nyquist and an even-strength tally by Nicklas Backstrom. Kane and Backstrom both scored again later in the game. Ryan McDonagh was plus 2, with an assist, 6 hits and 3 blocked shots.
Berlin 6, Copenhagen 5 – The Smurfs and Tridents started the game at sprint pace, scoring a total of 10 goals in the first two periods before tuckering out in the third period. Luckily for the home fans, Nathan Horton had enough energy to break the 5-5 tie and score the lone goal of the period with just 1:42 to play. It was Horton’s 4th goal of the season. Visiting Copenhagen started well and led 3-1 after period one. Devin Setoguchi, playing on the Tridents’ top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Stephen Weiss scored his 11th goal of the season and he now has a 23.9 shooting percentage. Gaudreau’s shooting percentage is 24.5 and both are in the top 15 in the league in that category. Two players scored 3 points in the game: defenseman Slava Voynov of Copenhagen and Ryan Callahan of the Smurfs. The final score was much closer than the shot count was. Berlin managed to fire 33 shots on net and had another 21 blocked, while Copenhagen had 22 shots on goal and another 4 blocked.
Zurich 3, Prague 0 – Jussi Jokinen, Patrice Bergeron and Jakub Voracek paced the Lions offense and Cam Ward was perfect in net as Zurich won convincingly in Prague. The three forwards combined for 19 shots on goal and Jokinen and Bergeron scored two of the game’s three goals. Jacob Trouba had two assists. Defenseman Marc Staal scored his second goal of the season. Prague got themselves in penalty trouble early with 4 trips to the box in the first period and they couldn’t recover.
Moscow 4, Milan 3 (OT -SO) – Spartak got two goals from Kris Versteeg, who is the team’s leading goal scorer with 11, but had to rely on Alexander Salak to stop Milan in the shootout after Ryan O’Reilly netted one for Moscow. Salak, 25, has already started more games for Moscow than he did in any of his first four seasons with Moscow and the move is paying off for Coach Joel Quenneville. Salak’s record is 14-2-1. Milan gained a point in the standings thanks to Joakim Lindstrom, who beat Salak to tie the game at 3-3 halfway through the third period. You would be hard-pressed to find a player with a more confusing track record than the 28-year-old Lindstrom. After coming to Italy from Berlin, Lindstrom saw his point total improve from 13 in Season 3 to 38 in Season 4. Then in Season 5, he received more ice time than ever but saw his production dip to 4 goals and 13 assists. This season, he already equaled his Season 5 goal output, but he doesn’t have a single assist and he’s always been a playmaker with more assists than goals.
Lisbon 4, Munich 3 (OT) – The Dire Wolf gave 13,417 Portuguese fans a scare Tuesday, taking Lisbon to overtime, but John Tavares came through in the clutch, scoring the game-winner about 30 seconds into the extra session. Steven Stamkos was impossible to control as the Lisbon star tallied 2 goals and 2 assists. Youngsters Fyodor Malykhin and Gareth Roberts each scored his 5th goal of the season for Munich, Malykhin’s coming while his team was killing a penalty. The point Munich gained puts them in 7th place, a point ahead of Lisbon, Bratislava and Milan and just 4 points out of second place in the tight Southern Conference standings.
Injury trouble: Athens, which is a point ahead of Munich in the standings, hosts Oslo today, but the Greeks have been hammered by injuries this week. Defensemen Alex Goligoski and Ian White both join Bobby Butler on the team’s injured reserve list. Goligoski, who missed only 3 games in his previous five seasons, will miss significant time with a back injury. The injuries forced Coach John Tortorella to juggle the blueline corps. The Kronwall brothers make up the top pairing now, with Trevor Daley and Ladislav Smid on the second pairing and Bobby Saguinetti and Jack Hillen being called up for emergency duty. Hillen, who was out of hockey after a EURO career that includes 49 games with Zurich and 4 with Paris was at home in his native Minnesota when he received a call from Athens GM Marcel Kuchta.
The London Dons get to test their mettle thanks to recent injuries to forwards Sam Gagner and Teddy Purcell. If neither is able to make a quicker-than-expected recovery, then Frenchman Gregory Beron, 22, would make his EURO debut Friday in Belfast.
Like Athens, Gothenburg has three players on IR. Finnish forwards Mikko Koivu and Olli Palola are both out, as is rugged winger Cal Clutterbuck, who sustained a concussion. Chris Kelly continues to replace Koivu in the lineup, while Linus Klasen and Benn Ferriero were both called up from Frolunda’s Malmo farm club for their first EURO League action of the season. Gothenburg will host the Dublin Fighting Irish tonight.