London will have to try to slay Giants without Nash

Playoff update.

Northern Conference

Moscow leads Helsinki 3-0 – Spartak is securely in the driver’s seat and their offensive might is the reason. Moscow scored 5 goals in games 1 and 2 and then 6 in Game 3. The two games in Moscow were close, but Game 3 in Finland was a disaster for Helsinki and Henrik Lundquist was awful. The Jokerit need 4 straight wins to advance and since they just don’t score a lot of goals they will need their goalie and team defense to be air tight.Five Moscow forwards who play on three lines have 5 points through 3 games, including Dustin Brown, Frans Nielsen, Kris Versteeg and Jannik Hansen.

Minsk leads Dublin 3-0 – Dublin’s leading scorer in the playoffs is Zack Kassian, with 2 goals and an assist. That should tell you how it’s going for the Fighting Irish and their top two lines. The Hussars have not let up in what looks to be a dream season for them. The league’s leading scorer in the regular season, Nicklas Backstrom, has been the perfect conductor for this orchestra, dishing out 7 assists through 3 games. The highest shot total Dublin has mustered thus far is 19 (twice), while Minsk’s lowest total is 28 and overall, the Hussars are outshooting the Irish 110-53.
London leads Belfast 2-1 – This is shaping up to be a memorable series. London has been a mystery all season for the Northern Irish team and the Dons have won 7 of the last 9 games the teams have played against each other. Both of their wins were one-goal victories that were direct opposites in terms of momentum swings. Jeff Skinner led London to a three-goal surge that erased an early 2-0 Belfast lead in Game 1, but in Game 3, it was the Dons who jumped out to a fast start. They led 5-0 before the Giants rallied, and Martin Jones, in net for London, had to withstand a barrage of shots to preserve the win. The middle game was all Belfast and Jonathan Quick’s shutout on foreign soil looked to be a big boost for the two-time defending champs. Unfortunately for them, Quick was bad in Game 3 and London regained the upper hand. Look for the Giants’ top defense pair of P.K. Subban and Justin Faulk to improve their minus 4 rating. For London, they will be without star right wing Rick Nash for a while. He sustained a lower body injury in Game 3. Look for coach Ken Hitchcock to shuffle his lines a bit to fill the spot.Teddy Purcell and Artemy Panarin both have the offensive skills to play with Skinner and Taylor Hall, or Hitchcock could shift second line left wing Brandon Saad to the right side. Jimmie Ericsson (34 games played in the regular season) should get the call-up to fill in the roster.

Gothenburg leads Stockholm 2-1 – All games are being played in the same country, but home ice advantage has held in each game so far. Stockholm looked very good and Gothenburg looked over-confident in Game 3. The Eagles outshot Frolunda 44-13 in that one and Gburg will have some work to do to regain the upper hand. Dan Girardi has been great for them. The veteran defenseman is tied for most blocked shots in the EURO playoffs, near the top in hits and two of the three shots he’s taken have resulted in goals. Stockholm needs two of their ice time leaders to contribute more. Keith Yandle and Zach Bogosian have just an assist each in the series and they are minus 4 and minus 3 respectively. Stockholm’s rookie sensation Jack Eichel injured his groin and will miss the remainder of the series. But Gothenburg has two injuries to deal with. Mikael Backlund is also out with a groin and veteran Mikko Koivu was injured in Game 2 and is out for the series.

Southern Conference

Paris leads Zurich 2-0 – Kris Letang set a tone in period one of Game 1, hitting every Lion he could get his stick on. The veteran defenseman sat in the penalty box three times that period, but the Zurich powerplay was unable to capitalize and it was all downhill after that. The first period of Game 2 was a flat out disaster for the Lions. Paris scored five times and chased starting goalie Cam Ward to the bench. One of the five different goal scorers was Josef Vasicek, a plus 185 career player who didn’t miss a game in his first four seasons. But he left that game with a lower body injury and will miss at least one game in Switzerland. Mike Ribiero, a center, will play the left wing tonight in what must seem like a must-win game for Zurich. The Lions have just one goal in the series, a Matt Bartkowski slapshot that got through Tuukka Rask.

Berlin leads Lisbon 2-0 – The Smurfs barely beat Lisbon in their two games in Germany, but they did, and the pressure is squarely on John Tavares and crew who really need to win both games in Portugal and make it a best of three series.In Game 1, Lisbon had a one-goal lead in the third period, but Patric Hornquist scored a shorthanded goal and rookie Erik Forssell scored later in the period to win it for Berlin. Game 2 was very similar. Once again, Lisbon let a 3-2 lead vanish in the third period. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who was acquired from Prague in an early-season trade, tied the game for Berlin and then Drew Doughty took a penalty that resulted in a killer powerplay goal by Ryan Callahan with less than three minutes to play. In both games, Lisbon took very late penalties that severely hurt their chances of coming back from sudden 4-3 deficits.

Madrid leads Bratislava 2-0 – Erik Karlsson and Derek Stepan were in on two big powerplay goals in the second period of Game 1 for the Royals and they helped Robin Lehner slam the door on Bratislava in the third period. In Game 2, Lehner didn’t seem to need much help. He made 23 saves and shutout a sluggish Bratislava offense. The Eagles have managed to score just twice so far, which is the same number of goals Blake Wheeler has for Madrid. Both teams have had trouble getting their biggest guns from the point to fire away. Shea Weber of Madrid and Tyler Myers of Bratislava have been limited to one shot each in the series and both shots resulted in goals.

Munich leads Athens 2-0 – The Dire Wolf won both games 3-2 on home ice. Athens hopes their fortunes will change in Greece starting tonight. Game 1 was really close, with Athens outshooting Munich 29-28. But two powerplay goals by Fyodor Malykhin made the difference as did a shot by Sean Monahan that went in and was the eventual game-winner. Andrew Ladd scored both Athens goals. Ladd was the goat in Game 2. The score was 2-2 as the teams matched each other stride for stride in the third period and then into sudden death overtime. Ladd, however, was called for interference a little more than 3 minutes into OT and on the subsequent powerplay, Malykhin passed to Tomas Fleischmann, who ripped a wrist into the net before goalie Jaroslav Halak could cover the open side. More bad news for the Greeks: Alex Goligoski, who scored the goal that made it 2-2, sustained a wrist injury and will miss Game 3 and probably more.

 

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