Lehner, Swedes keep Madrid soaring

Madrid 2, Dublin 1 – The Madrid Royals have won seven of their last eight games and will finish as the sixth-best team in the league. In the playoffs, they will be the third seed in the Southern Conference and their opponent will be  … anybody’s guess between Athens, Bratislava, Lisbon and Zurich. On Wednesday, the Royals scored a couple of goals in the first period and were able to hold of the Fighting Irish’s comeback attempt. Robin Lehner was in goal and he did the job for Madrid. Lehner has quietly zoomed into elite company among the league’s goaltenders. His .913 save percentage is second-best in the EURO, behind only Minsk star Carey Price. In the last three seasons, Lehner’s goals against average has improved from 3.12 to 2.79 to 2.38 this season. The good news for Royals fans and General Manager Roland Lavoie is that Lehner is just 24 years old and in the off season, he could be locked up for up to four more years. Lehner seems to have justified a long-term contract with the team. The Spanish team has a distinctly Swedish feel to it. Many of its top players are Swedish, including Lehner, Erik Karlsson, Alexander Steen, Gabriel Landeskog and Patrik Berglund. The latter two scored Madrid’s goals against Dublin.

Lisbon 3, Bern 2 (OT-SO) – Dustin Byfuglien beat Mike Smith in the fourth-round of a shootout and that goal was an important one for Lisbon H.C. as they need every point in the standings they can get in order to move away from playoff match-ups against powerhouses Paris, Berlin and Madrid. The game against Smith and the Bears was scoreless for a long time even though Lisbon held a huge advantage in shots (45-18 by the end), but that changed in the second period when John Tavares raced into the Bern zone and dropped a pretty pass to Steven Stamkos, who sniped his 33rd goal of the season. Lisbon added a Matt Martin goal but the 2-goal lead proved to be the worst lead in hockey, as Bern cut the deficit to one early in the third period on a Henrik Zetterberg goal and the then late in the final period, they tied it with a powerplay goal by Mika Zibanejad with Zetterberg assisting.

Gothenburg 4, London 1 – Frolunda looked serious about winning, outshooting the home team 43-22 and winning by three goals. Gothenburg led 2-0 after a period and 3-0 eight minutes into the second period. Cal Clutterbuck opened the scoring after banging in a John Carlson rebound and his was the only goal of the game that wasn’t scored during a powerplay. Carlson ended the game with two goals and an assist.

Milan 5, Bratislava 3 – Milan dealt Bratislava disappointment in Slovakia on Wednesday. The Eagles, who are trying to move ahead of Athens and Munich in the standings, have had trouble winning at home this season and this game added to the problem. A fast start by Milan resulted in three goals on Marc-Andre Fleury, but Bratislava was able to tie the game after two periods. In the third, the Guerriero were dominant, outshooting the Eagles 15-7 and getting deciding goals from Mathis Olimb and Marcus Kruger. Defenseman Danny Dekeyser scored the first two goals of the game and he now has 7 goals this season for the Guerriero. It was a bad day at the office for Bratislava’s top forward line of Daniel Sedin, Tyler Ennis and Milan Gulas, who were minus 4 as a unit. Bratislava coach Brent Sutter has since moved Troy Brouwer – the team leader in plus-minus – into Ennis’ spot on the line. The team will be without injured star center Jonathan Toews for the remainder of the regular season and possibly some playoff games.

Belfast 3, Helsinki 0 – Evander Kane has had his goal-scoring stick with him lately and he added two more at home against Henrik Lundquist and the Jokerit. Kane has scored in each of his last five games and he now has 33 goals, which equals his career-best total. Claude Giroux assisted on both Kane goals and Mikko Lehtonen set up Matt Moulson for the Giants’ other goal. Jonathan Quick made 21 saves to notch his 6th shutout of the year and league-leading 32nd of his career. The two teams – normally tough and hard hitting – played it cool in the hitting department, with Belfast holding an 18-14 edge in that category.

Minsk 5, Prague 2 – The Wolf Pack knew they had a difficult assignment as they try to scratch their way into the playoffs, and they didn’t have enough Wednesday to overcome the league’s best team. The Hussars won a way they usually don’t, getting four goals from two defensemen: Aaron Ekblad and Michael Del Zotto. Ekblad now has 6 goals this season, while Del Zotto has 23 and will likely finish as the league’s top goal-scoring defenseman. The league’s top scorer, Nicklas Backstrom, has two more games left to hit the 50-goal plateau. He is stuck on 49 at the moment. Paris’s Evgeny Malkin and Berlin’s Logan Couture could also hit 50 goals if they get hot over their final 3 games.





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