Breaking: Rick Nash has recovered enough to return to the London lineup tonight for Game 6 against Belfast.
Athens 2, Munich 1 – Dire Wolf fans are not happy at the moment. They were giddy about a week ago when their team bolted out to a two games to none lead in their first round playoff series, but things have gone sour since. The team offered a lackluster effort to 19,878 home fans on Tuesday when they lost 2-1 and dropped their third straight game. It was the first time in the series the home team lost, and now Coach Craig Berube’s team will have to win in Athens on Thursday and then again in Munich in order to advance to the second round. Henrik Sedin scored his first goal of the series to put the Dire Wolf up 1-0 late in the third period. But even goalie Cory Schneider couldn’t win the game by himself. In the second period, Athens looked determined to tie the game and they threatened to overrun the home team, outshooting them 18-8. An Ian White slapshot got past Schneider and the contest was tied entering the third period. It was a careful period and Munich had a great opportunity when two Athens penalties overlapped by 30 seconds. But Jaroslav Halak and the Greek penalty killers kept the game tied. Then, with 1:34 remaining, another Greek defenseman, Trevor Daley, found the net and stunned the German fans. Hopes of a game-tying goal became slim when Munich’s Josh Bailey leveled Bobby Butler and was called for charging. Loud booing carried on until the teams and officials left the ice after the game. This series has been a low-scoring one. Through five games, only once has a team reached 3 goals in regulation. Every game has been decided by a single goal.
Madrid 4, Bratislava 2 – Halfway through the game, the score was tied 2-2 when the roof partially caved in on the Madrid Royals. Big-minute defenseman Shea Weber blocked a Tyler Myers slapshot and left the game with an arm injury. But the Royals gathered their wits and persevered, getting a game-winning goal in the third period from Derek Stepan. The slick center had already assisted on a shorthanded Gabriel Landeskog goal in the first period, and he collected his third point by assisting on a Blake Wheeler goal later in the third period. Stepan was named as the game’s first star. Madrid dominated in shots, 32-17, and the home team has won every game of the series. It looks like to win in Bratislava, the Royals will have to do it without Weber, who has 3 points and 12 hits in his four-and-a-half games. Marc-Andre Bourdon, a mid-season trade acquisition from Moscow, will take Weber’s place alongside Erik Karlsson, and Erik Gudbranson fills in on the third pair with Jonas Brodin. Going against the Stepan line, Bratislava’s top line of Jonathan Toews, Tyler Ennis and Daniel Sedin was held to one shot on goal, although Toews outdid Stepan in the faceoff circle. Tyler Toffoli, 24, has really broken out since mid-season and he scored Tuesday for Bratislava. Toffoli leads the team in scoring in the playoffs.
Berlin 4, Lisbon 2 – Lisbon H.C. is a scary club that had a disappointing season for whatever reason and that meant they drew a great team in the first round. Lisbon stars Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty came through with their first goals of the series in Game 5, but the team couldn’t crawl out of the three-goal hole they were in thanks to tallies by Smurfs Patric Hornquist, Aleksander Barkov and Logan Couture. Berlin advances to the second round as the second seed behind Paris. Couture finished the series as the top-scoring Smurf with 6 points, while David Krejci had 5. Alex Edler and Josh Gorges were plus three in the five games, while no other Smurf was better than plus one. Magnus Paajarvi and Alexei Kalyuzhny led Lisbon in plus-minus at plus 3, while John Tavares (6 points), Joe Pavelski (5) and Stamkos (5) were the team’s leading point producers. Goalies Jimmy Howard of Berlin and Kari Ramo of Lisbon had almost identical goalie stats in the series and the team statistics were not too lopsided in Berlin’s favor in any category other than penalty minutes. Lisbon was called for an average of 13.8 penalty minutes per game, while Berlin averaged nearly half as many (7.0).