Injuries threaten teams’ playoff hopes

Bratislava 4, Lisbon 1 – Sunday’s game in Lisbon was an eventful one, and not just because Tyler Toffoli scored twice to lead the visitors to a win. Lisbon and Bratislava are two of the six or seven Southern Conference clubs who still don’t know if they will have playoff games in their future. For them, every point in the standings is a big deal. The teams fought so hard for it in Portugal that three players had to be helped off the ice with injuries. Bratislava won the game but lost captain and leading scorer Jonathan Toews for probably the remainder of the regular season. Although Toews has scored 31 goals, this has been his worst season and the injury assures he will finish with his lowest point total and worst plus-minus rating ever. Coach Brent Sutter will rely on Czech Milan Gulas to center the top line, and he has moved Shawn Matthias from the left wing to center and called up Erik Cole to fill Matthias’ wing position. Lisbon lost defenseman Jared Spurgeon for the rest of the season and the first round of the playoffs, if not more. He tumbled into the boards while battling Troy Brouwer for a puck and sustained a serious shoulder injury. Spurgeon was having his best-ever season, a point from equaling his career best in points while accumulating a plus 17 rating. Maxi Domi, who played a furious game and committed two penalties in the process,  injured a knee and left with a little more than 11 minutes to play. The rookie winger has been great, averaging more than a point per game for Lisbon. Coach Willie Desjardins has called up big rookie Darnell Nurse to replace Spurgeon and Mats Rosseli Olsen to take Domi’s spot. Roselli Olsen has 39 games’ experience, but Tuesday’s game against Geneva will be Nurse’s EURO debut. Twenty EURO players are currently listed as injured, including four on Lisbon’s roster.  Geneva and Dublin, two other teams fighting for playoff berths, both have two players on the injury list.

 Belfast 5, Minsk 0 – Matt Moulson scored three goals and added an assist as the Belfast Giants reminded Minsk they will have a fight on their hands in their attempt to break Belfast’s string of Cup wins. Belfast has won the last two, but Minsk is coasting to its first President’s Trophy as the league’s best regular season team. Moulson and linemates Mikko Lehtonen and Sergei Mozyakin were plus 4 on Sunday. Giant defenseman P.K. Subban blocked 5 shots to help Jonathan Quick record his fifth shutout of the season and 31st of his career, tying him with Pekka Rinne as the EURO’s all-time leaders in shutouts.

Oslo 5, London 4 – London gave it everything they had in the second period and then faded in the third, enabling Oslo to record a comeback win at home. London peppered Semyon Verlamov with 24 shots in the second period, but the Russian limited the damage to just two goals in that frame. The Dons entered the third period with a 3-2 lead, but they tuckered out, allowing the Outlaws to outshoot them 17-8. Viktor Antipin has been a great defensive defenseman for Oslo this season and in the third period, he accomplished the unusual: he scored a goal – only his second of the season and fourth of his career – to tie the score 3-3. Tomas Hertl scored his second goal of the game to give Oslo the lead, and after Jeff Skinner’s 30th of the season tied it 4-4, Oslo won it when Morgan Rielly scored his third of the season with just 27 seconds remaining. Skinner ended up with four points on the night for London.

Berlin 4, Helsinki 2 – It was a close game, but Logan Couture and the Smurf powerplay were too much for Helsinki. The league’s third-best scorer scored twice in the first period, once with the man advantage after Niklas Hjalmarsson scored for Berlin on a different powerplay. The game saw 14 penalties called on the two teams, including 8 holding calls. Jack Johnson racked up 9 hits for Helsinki, while Berlin’s Josh Gorges tried to match him and reached 7. Couture is trying to reach the 100-point mark for the third time in his career and he leads the league in shots on goal by 20 over the next best shooter. He needs 18 shots over the final seven games to tie the league record, set by Madrid’s Joe Pavelski in Season 2.

Moscow 4, Gothenburg 2 – Shots were just about even in the game and Gothenburg was about six minutes away from an away win before Spartak rallied for three goals to win it. Nick Leddy had an assist and an empty-net goal for Moscow in the last 4 minutes. Jannik Hansen scored twice in the game for the winners and teammate Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and an assist. Carl Hagelin picked up two assists for Frolunda.

 

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