Munich, Bratislava gain upset road wins

Munich 5, London 4 – Craig Smith isn’t the only one benefitting from an increase in his ice time. His Munich Dire Wolf teammates and fans get something out of it too. Like on Saturday, when the Madison, Wisconsin native scored twice – including the game-winner – to help Munich surprise London in England. Playing right wing on the team’s top line along with Talgat Zhailauov and Filip Forsberg, Smith also teams with Patrick Marleau and Sean Monahan on the top power play unit, and he kills penalties. On Saturday, he led all Munich players in ice time with 24 minutes. In his five years with Stockholm, Smith maxed out at an average of 11 minutes per game and reached his career-best 25 points that season. This year, at 18 minutes per game, he is up to 15 points already and has nearly twice as many takeaways as giveaways. Smith was part of a major deal that sent him, Monahan, Jindrich Barak and Cody Ceci to Bavaria in exchange for prospect Jack Eichel, Charlie Coyle and a pending second-round pick. In Saturday’s game in London, Smith ignited a three-goal outburst that catapulted Munich into the lead before Brandon Saad scored his second goal of the game for London to tie the game in the third period. Smith then scored the winner after Zhailauov fed him a nifty pass around backup goalie Michal Neuwirth.

Bratislava 3, Belfast 1 – The Giants remained behind London in the Ahearne Division standings thanks to Bratislava, which pulled off an upset on the road.  Bratislava opened up a 3-0 lead on the champs and carried a 3-1 lead into the third period. But rather than going into a defensive shell, the Eagles poured on the pressure, outshooting Belfast 15-6 in the final period, which ended scoreless. Corey Crawford, who has the league’s best goals against average, stopped 30 of 31 Belfast shots in the win and big Bratislava center Martin Hanzal delivered 7 hits and scored the first goal of the contest.

Prague 4, Edinburgh 2 – A close game was won on goals scored by players who haven’t been doing a lot of scoring this season. After Claude Giroux put Edinburgh in front 1-0, Prague got goals from Andrey Bykov, Cory Conacher and Matt Nieto to surge ahead 3-1. Bykov and Conacher entered the game with two goals apiece and Nieto had failed to score once in his previous 16 EURO League games. His first-ever goal turned into the game winner because Alexander Sulzer scored his first of the year late in the third period to bring Edinburgh to within a goal. The Capitals pulled their goalie trying to tie the game, and put on a furious charge but they were unable to beat Calvin Pickard again. Marcus Johansson ended the suspense with an empty-net tally with just 11 seconds left.

St. Petersburg 5, Oslo 1 – St. Petersburg trailed Oslo for nearly half the game, thanks to a Zach praise power play goal, but the Outlaws finally caved in once the Red Stars finally beat goalie Semyon Varlamov. Brad Richards, Viktor Stalberg and Brian Boyle scored in the  second period for Petrograd and teammates Jonathan Huberdeau and Jeff Petry piled on in the third. Perry was named the first star of the game, as he had a goal and an assist to go with 7 hits. Each team was 1 for 6 on the power play. The teams entered the game as the two bottom teams in the league, but St. Petersburg was able to leapfrog over Edinburgh in the standings.

Minsk 5, Geneva 1 – The Generals were routed in Belarus as the Hussars moved into a tie for first place overall. Minsk outshot Geneva 45-19, including 17-6 in the third period even though they played shorthanded for 8 of the 20 minutes. Milan Lucic was the top offensive player in the game with two goals to give him 11 on the season. Thomas Powell had a goal and an assist, while Patrick Kane and Jordan Staal both chalked up two assists. Nicklas Backstrom fired 10 shots on the Geneva goal and defenseman Michael Del Zotto, a former General, notched his 8th goal of the season, which is more than any other Dman has scored so far. It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Geneva, however. When Valeri Nichushkin scored on his former team in the second period, the game was suddenly tied 1-1 and the Generals at least could hope to turn around momentum. A Gerhard Unterluggauer penalty and subsequent Minsk power play goal dashed those hopes.




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