Couture, Edler steal point from Prague

Berlin 2, Prague 1 (OT) – Prague Sparta still has a good chance of moving from 9th place into the playoffs, but they can’t afford too many more games like the one they played Thursday. Logan Couture and Alex Edler were heroes for the Smurfs as they helped their team transform a zero-point trip to the Czech Republic into a happy 2-point journey back north. With Prague protecting a one-goal lead, Couture fired a shot through Calvin Pickard with just 2:19 to play and the goal forced overtime. Early in OT, Couture saw Edler filling the slot and fed him a soft past that the Swedish defenseman was able to blast into the Prague net to end the game. Couture is third in the league in scoring. The one point Sparta gained has them tied with Bratislava and Lisbon at 74 points, but because Prague has played the most games, they are sitting in 9th. But with a win in their next game, Prague could slide ahead of sixth-place Zurich, so anything can happen in the Southern Conference race down the 9-to-12-game home stretch.

Dublin 4, Belfast 3 (OT) – Just 22 seconds before a shootout would be necessary, Ryan Kesler scored for the second time in the game to win it for the Fighting Irish. That extra point in the standings helps a lot. Even though Edinburgh is chasing them hard, the Irish still have a leg up in the race. They are three points in front of 9th-place Edinburgh with three games in hand. In the last seven games, Dublin lost just once – to the Capitals. In Thursday’s game, there were a lot of penalties. Belfast took 10 penalties but were able to kill off every one of them. They lost defenseman Victor Hedman near the end of the second period after he was ejected from the game due to a flagrant kneeing penalty. They also had to play without P.K. Subban for 10 minutes while he served five separate minor penalties. The two-time defending champs have now lost five of their last six games. Included in that stretch are two losses to the other Irish team.

Edinburgh 6, Lisbon 4 – In a game that meant a lot to both teams’ playoff chances, Edinburgh got a Herculean effort from Sidney Crosby. The former Giant scored three times in the game’s first 16 minutes and then added two assists later in the contest. Rookie Sam Reinhart played well with Sid, picking up a goal and two assists. The Caps led 5-0 late in the second period before Lisbon started a too-little, too-late comeback attempt. Nick Bjugstad scored two for Lisbon and he now has 9 goals this season. Edinburgh defenseman Andy Sertich had a nice game: 2 assists, 4 hits and 3 blocked shots in 20 minutes of ice time. Brandon Dubinsky of Edinburgh fought twice, against Max Domi and Matt Martin.

Helsinki 6, Stockholm 2 – A big second period outburst by the Jokerit and it was Sweden over Finland; Lundquist over Holtby; and a big step toward home-ice advantage for Helsinki. The second period began 2-1 in favor of the Jokerit and in the next 12 minutes, they simply wrestled the game away from Stockholm. The Jokerit dominated play during that stretch and piled on with goals from former Eagle Pavel Datsyuk, Jason Spezza, Michael Sauer and Ville Peltonen. As usual, Helsinki outhit their opponent, but this time, the unlikely leader in hits was veteran Austrian winger Thomas Vanek with 5. Vanek is a hit away from equaling his career high in that category, but he remains two goals from reaching the 20-goal plateau for the fifth straight season. He is playing his best overall hockey this season, however, with a plus 15 rating and he should finish with more takeaways than giveaways for the second time in his EURO career.

Copenhagen 3, London 0 – On a day when voters back home were closing the door on the European Union, the Dons were in Denmark, having the door slammed in their face by Trident goalie Andres De La Garma. The 23-year-old Mexican was able to stop all 22 London shots to record his second shutout in 60 EURO League games.  The Tridents fired 30 shots on London’s goal and they got tallies from Damien Brunner and Devin Setoguchi before Eric Gustafsson slid a shot into the empty net with 4 seconds left.Copenhagen is ranked 23rd in the league and London is in 7th place in the Northern Conference, which means a playoff showdown with Belfast if they don’t move in the standings.

Paris 5, Madrid 3 – It seemed like a typical Paris home game, with the Rouge Eiffels dominating the shot count and the score. All five of Paris’ goals were scored by forwards, with Martin Erat scoring his first two goals of the season. The 35-year-old Czech was called into action four games ago to replace injured David Perron. Defenseman Ken Kuusk and forward Alexander Semin picked up two assists each for Paris, while Madrid was led by Alex Steen, who had a goal and an assist. Paris’ Evgeny Malkin, the league’s second-leading scorer, was limited to one point, but he helped in another area, dishing out 5 hits.


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