Top seeds take early leads in Round 2

The higher seeded teams all won with home-ice advantage to take 1-0 leads in their second round match-ups.

Belfast 5, Moscow 2 – The Giants tightened up their defensive game after Belfast’s Cody Franson scored from the point to tie the game at 2-2 in the first period. Franson also scored a relatively meaningless fifth goal for Belfast and was named the number one star of the game. The fact that Belfast was able to get five pucks past Alexander Salak in the Moscow goal is a surprise to many and surely must have Spartak fans a little worried. They need Salak to be at his best from this point on. Claude Giroux of Belfast outplayed Ryan O’Reilly when the centers went head-to-head, with Giroux winning most of the faceoffs and scoring the opening goal of the series on one of his 6 shots on goal. Third-liners Sergei Mozyakin and Mikko Lehtonen joined teammate Franson as the only players with multi-point games. Moscow had beaten Belfast in all four of their meetings during the regular season.

Minsk 6, Gothenburg 1 – Mikko Koivu, who once won a cup with Paris, is still out of the Gothenburg lineup with an arm injury and that surely can’t help Frolunda’s cause against the best team in the league. In Game 1 of the series, Minsk won very easily. The Hussars outshot Gburg 55-12 with blueliner Michael Del Zotto scoring his first two goals of the playoffs.Minsk’s top line looked unstoppable Tuesday. Nicklas Backstrom, Milan Lucic and Patrick Kane danced around all night and fired 21 shots on Gothenburg goalie Pekka Rinne. Backstrom and Lucic had 3 points, as did Del Zotto.

Paris 7, Athens 2 – The Greeks were in it for a while before the Rouge Eiffels left them in their dust. Josef Vasicek opened the scoring, putting Paris up 1-0 with a deke-and-backhander to beat Jaro Halak, but Athens came right back 2:06 later when Andrew Ladd deposited an Anze Kopitar feed past Tuukka Rask. From then on, Paris dominated. The Eiffels outshot Athens 41-18 in the game and six Paris players had multi-point games. Kris Letang, Evgeny Malkin and Joffrey Lupul tallied 3 points each, while Alex Pietrangelo, Corey Perry and David Perron all had 2. Nicklas Kronwall of Athens appeared to aggravate a foot injury that kept him out of two games against Munich in Round 1. He is listed as day-to-day.

Berlin 7, Madrid 3 – The Smurfs seemed extra angry Wednesday when the series opened. They rattled off five goals in the first period and then settled into a more defensive posture. David Krejci was the best player on the ice. The Czech center scored the game’s first goal just two minutes into the game and assisted on two other first-period goals before adding another goal late in the contest. Logan Couture, the Smurfs’ top line center, played a great game, scoring two points, firing off 7 shots and blocking 3 at the other end. Four Smurfs – Dion Phaneuf, Nick Bonino, Nathan Horton and Mike Green – scored their first goals of the playoff season. But Berlin must be wary of Madrid’s top line going forward. Blake Wheeler and Derek Stepan scored 3 points each in the loss. In the defeat, Madrid lost Derek Roy, who has played a key role for the team in his first season in Madrid. Roy plays center on the fourth line and wing on the second powerplay unit. In an average of just 12 minutes per game this season, he scored 22 goals for the Royals. Roy has been a journeyman hired gun if there ever was one. Drafted by Copenhagen, Roy spent two years in Denmark before four one-year free agent engagements in Moscow, Milan, Helsinki and now Madrid. The 33-year-old’s 47 points this season is his lowest total ever. His career best was 83 (with 52 assists) in Season 2 with the Tridents. He has also had more takeaways than giveaways every year of his career. But a fractured wrist will have him on the sidelines the rest of the Berlin series. Replacing him will not be easy for Madrid Coach Dan Bylsma. He has plenty of players to choose from, but none who can match Roy’s play. Tomas Nosek is totally inexperienced, but he is the best faceoff-taker in the organization. Olli Jokinen, 38, has the most experience (61 career playoff games) of the reserve players and he can be moved to center.

 

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