Minsk def. Dublin 4-0 – The Hussars are looking good. They out-scored the Fighting Irish 20-6 in the series and outshot them 141-78. Dublin was a strong offensive club, so the work of the defense and goaltender Carey Price deserves an extra pat on the back. But the Irish had the worst defensive numbers among all playoff teams, so expect the goal production to go down for the Hussars as the playoffs move along. The line of Nicklas Backstrom, Patrick Kane and Milan Lucic led the way in scoring and plus-minus, along with top defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Ryan McDonagh.
Moscow def. Helsinki 4-0 – There wasn’t much the Jokerit could do in Game 4 of the series because Alexander Salak seemed intent on winning. The Czech goalie simply stole the game while making 36 saves. In the process, he ended Helsinki’s season. Goals by Kyle Palmieri and Dustin Brown provided all the offense Moscow needed to win the game and advance to the second round. Helsinki can’t blame the effort of Paul Stastny and Steve Downie, who fired 22 and 15 shots on goal respectively. But Moscow was too good, especially defensemen Ryan Suter and Duncan Keith, who played sound defense, blocked a total of 13 shots in the four games, and got the offense started with smart breakouts. Spartak’s third line of Chris Stewart, Jannik Hansen and Frans Nielsen played well. Stewart and Hansen were both plus 4 and Stewart had 4 takeaways to one giveaway. The trio scored 5 goals in 4 games.
Series tied; London 2, Belfast 2 – The England-Northern Ireland battle seems, more than anything else, to hinge on the play of Belfast goalie Jonathan Quick. In the two games the Giants have won, Quick has pitched shutouts. In the London wins, however, he has yielded an average of 4 goals. The series continues tonight in Belfast minus London sniper Rick Nash, who is still sidelined with an undisclosed lower body injury. London coach Ken Hitchcock is still without a solution to the lineup hole. In Game 4, Brandon Saad, Tyler Bozak and Jimmie Ericsson were all minus 3. That kind of performance can’t be repeated if London hopes to eliminate the two-time defending champs.They will also need defensemen Jake Muzzin and Marco Scandella (both minus 4 in the series) to step up their game. For Belfast, blueliners Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Victor Hedman have led the way with plus 5 ratings despite a combined point total of just one.
Series tied; Gothenburg 2, Stockholm 2 – The home team has won all four games in the Swedish Series. In Game 4, Stockholm looked big. They outshot Gothenburg 44-25 and came back with authority from a 2-0 first period deficit. A good sign for the Eagles was that three of their bigger guns – Bobby Ryan, Jeff Carter and defenseman Cam Fowler – all scored their first goals of the series. Stockholm will do better if those players can get on a roll. Gothenburg will do better if they can reduce their trips to the penalty box. Stockholm scored just one powerplay goal in Game 4, but five first-period penalties and an instigator call in the second kept Frolunda on their heels more often than Coach Randy Carlyle would have liked.
Paris def. Zurich 4-0 – The Lions probably didn’t expect to beat the conference’s top seed in the first-round series, but they probably anticipated scoring more than 3 times in 4 games. Tuukka Rask deserves a lot of the credit for Paris’ win because shots on goal throughout the series were very close (116-113 Paris). Joffrey Lupul scored the game-winner in Game 3 and added two goals in Game 4 for the Rouge Eiffels. In the series as a whole, Paris’ scoring was spread out evenly throughout the roster and no one played poorly, although Corey Perry did cough up the puck 10 times and Mike Richards sat in the penalty box for 12 minutes.
Berlin leads Lisbon in series 3-1 – The Smurfs have won three one-goal games in the series. After Lisbon and goalie Kari Ramo pulled out a convincing win in front of the home folks in Game 3, Berlin belted the Portuguese hopes in Game 4, scoring 41 seconds into the game and adding two more goals by the time the contest was only 18 minutes old. Lisbon tried to come back and was able to score twice in the third period, but they came up just short against Jimmy Howard. Berlin has been able to take a 3-1 lead in the series despite an injury to defensive stalwart Dion Phaneuf. But Coach Adam Oates will have to go to the defenseman well once again to find another injury replacement for Stefan Ulmer, who was injured in the last game. Veteran Joni Pitkanen has played 3 games already in the series – two in favor of a healthy Ulmer – and he will likely finish it out. Former Athens rearguard Tim Gleason, 33, is likely to get the call-up for Tuesday’s game. Gleason has only played two games in a Smurf uniform, but he has 57 playoff games under his belt and he was plus 5 over those contests. For Lisbon, second-line center Joe Pavelski has been his team’s best player with 5 goals in 4 games.
Series tied; Madrid 2, Bratislava 2 – After scoring just two goals in two games in Spain, the Bratislava Eagles were able to pile 12 goals into the Royals net in two games in Slovakia. Coach Brent Sutter has been focusing on keeping Madrid’s defensemen – Shea Weber and Erik Karlsson in particular – from generating offense in the Bratislava zone and the by-product of that strategy seems to be turnovers and odd-man breaks in the Eagles’s favor. Tyler Ennis scored three goals including the overtime game-winner in Game 3, which Madrid led 5-3 at one point, and in Game 4, Martin Hanzal had 4 points and Zemgus Girgensons had a pair of goals for Bratislava. Madrid’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Derek Stepan and Blake Wheeler has done a lot of damage in the series already (6 goals and 18 points) and Coach Dan Bylsma will have last change in Game 5 to free them up a little more.
Series tied; Munich 2, Athens 2 – The home team has won every game of this series in a very even struggle. Every game has been decided by a goal, and two have come in overtime. The game-winners so far have been scored by Sean Monahan and Tomas Fleischmann (OT) for Munich and Anze Kopitar (OT) and Jason Pominville for Athens. Cory Schneider has been playing great in goal for the Dire Wolf and most will agree that neither of the two games in Greece should have been as close as they ended up being. Athens outshot Munich 49-13 in Game 3 and 37-19 in Game 4. Andrew Ladd has 6 points in the series for the Greeks, while Kopitar and Pominville have 4 each, with Pominville’s takeaway-to-giveaway ratio being 7-1. Ladislav Smid might be the Greeks’ best player so far in the playoffs with 3 points and a plus 3 rating. For Munich, Fleischmann and youngsters Fyodor Malykhin and Talgat Zhailauov have led the way with 4 points each, but Fleischmann got dinged up in Game 4. Munich fans will be urging Henrik Sedin, Craig Smith and Filip Forsberg to pick up their games on Tuesday because Munich will need more from them to beat the Greeks in the series. Coach Craig Berube will have an interesting choice to make in replacing Fleischmann, assuming he doesn’t heal quickly enough to play in the next game. The coach will have to choose either experience (Max Talbot), toughness (Derek Dorsett or Kyle Clifford), or discipline (former Greek Miks Indrasis, defense-minded Daniel Pietta or young Calle Jarnkrok). Athens is making do without two injured defensemen as both Alex Goligoski and Nicklas Kronwall are out. Christian Folin and Bobby Saguinetti are playing in their place.