Paris leads Athens, 2 games to 1
Athens found a way to win against Paris to narrow the Rouge Eiffels’ lead in their series to 2 games to one. After getting shelled in Game 1 by a 7-2 score, The Greeks were hammered again in Paris, losing 6-0 in the second game of the series. Evgeny Malkin and Joffrey Lupul carried the Paris offense with 3 points apiece, while Josef Vasicek and Kris Letang had 2 points each. Malkin was a beast. In addition to his two goals and an assist, he dished out 4 hits and fired 10 shots on goal. Tuukka Rask stopped 19 shots for his second shutout of these playoffs and his fourth clean sheet in 80 career playoff games. The game was a rough one featuring three high sticking major penalties and some hitting (29-15 in favor of Paris). Both teams lost a defenseman in the game. Jason Krog suffered a hip injury and is being replaced by Steve Olesky in the Paris lineup, while Staffan Kronwall hurt his wrist and has Bobby Sanguinetti filling in for him for Athens. Staffan’s brother Nicklas is dinged up but played in Game 3 anyway, a game from which the Greeks emerged victorious. They deserved the win, having outshot the Rouge Eiffels 34-28. Anze Kopitar scored the game-winning goal for Athens with 7:38 remaining in the third period after taking a feed from Jason Pominville who had just circled behind the Paris goal. Malkin was held to 3 shots and no points by Athens and he and his linemates were minus 2 in the game.
Berlin leads Madrid 3-0
The Smurfs are a game away from the Southern Conference finals series. The Berlin offense has been motoring along in the series with 6, 6 and 7 goals scored in the three games. The work has been spread out pretty evenly among Berlin’s forwards. David Krejci and Logan Couture have 7 points each in the series, Loui Eriksson has 6, Ryan Callahan and Nathan Horton have 4, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nick Bonino have 3 each. The Smurfs won Game 1 by a 7-3 score and then followed that up with another convincing win, 6-1. Horton’s two goals a minute and a half span late in the first period put Berlin up 3-0 and it seemed out of reach for Madrid at that point. Jonas Brodin scored the Royals’ lone goal midway through the third period but he was injured about 5 minutes later and he could miss the rest of the series.Game 3 saw Berlin again jump out to a big first period lead, but Madrid responded with its best period of the series, a four-goal outburst in the second period led by Gabriel Landeskog’s two goals. It was 5-3 home team Madrid when the third period started, but they couldn’t hold off Berlin’s offense. Mike Green and Couture scored goals to tie the game just 6 minutes into the third, and young Erik Forssell scored his second game-winner of the playoffs when he completed a hard-working play with linemates Aleksander Barkov and Bonino. Dion Phaneuf of Berlin has gotten into two fights in the last two games – one with Colin Greening and the other with Erik Gudbranson.
Minsk leads Gothenburg 2-1
The Hussars regained the lead in the series, again firing a ton of shots at Pekka Rinne in the Frolunda net. Minsk outshot Gothenburg 40-29 in Game 3 with Australian Thomas Powell doing most of the damage. He scored twice in the first period and again in the second for a hat trick on 6 shots. Jordan Staal assisted on all three of Powell’s goals.Their linemate, Gustav Nyquist also had 3 assists in the game. Powell has put together three consecutive season of 60 or more points for Minsk. The game-winner came late in the third period when the Hussars had their top line on the ice. Nicklas Backstrom and Milan Lucic earned assists when Janne Niskala ripped in a shot for his first goal of the playoffs. Gothenburg will try to even the series tonight at home, still without injured Mikko Koivu.
Belfast leads Moscow 2-1
The home team has won all three games of this series, as Spartak took it in overtime. Moscow outshot Belfast 30-18 through 60 minutes of play, but had to get a game-tying goal out of Anton Stralman to force overtime. The OT period was one of the shortest imaginable. After the opening faceoff, there was some scrambly play – mostly in the neutral zone – and when Sergei Mozyakin of Belfast tried to beat Nick Leddy to the outside,t he defenseman pinned him to the boards. Leddy’s partner, Andrei Markov picked up the loose put and started up ice, fed a pass to Frans Nielsen and suddenly it was a 2-on-1 with fellow Dane Jannik Hansen against Belfast defenseman Cody Franson. A Nielsen-to-Hansen pass and then a Hansen-to-Nielsen pass and the latter had half the net open and he made good on the easy shot. Game 4 is tonight in Russia. Giants coach Alain Vigneault may leave Matt Moulson in as the fourth line left winger even though he has a shoulder injury.