Bratislava, Ruff in first place .. for now

Bratislava 3, Bern 1 – The Bratislava Eagles have surprised even themselves by taking over first place overall in the EURO following their ninth consecutive win. The streak didn’t include many pushovers, as Bratislava skated past some top teams in Lisbon (twice), Belfast, Paris and Berlin. On Wednesday, they will have the toughest of tests: the Hussars in Minsk. It will be Coach Lindy Ruff’s first visit to the city since he guided Minsk to the Cup championship a few months ago.  Defense has been the key force driving Bratislava this season. Marc-Andre Fleury has the best goalie averages in the league and on Monday, the team protected him very well, limiting Bern to 3 shots through the first 40 minutes of play.

St. Petersburg 1, Moscow 0 – A tight struggle between two Russian teams was decided by a third-period goal scored by Jonathan Huberdeau of St. Petersburg. The goal was set up by Jan Kovar, who took a pass in the corner of the ice to the left of Moscow goalie Alexander Salak, curled to elude Gerhard Unterluggauer’s checking and passed through Ryan Suter’s legs to Huberdeau on the far side of the net. Kari Lehtonen registered 27 saves to earn the shutout for the Krasnyye Zvezdy.

Lisbon 4, Zurich 2 – Lisbon winger Matt Moulson scored a pair of goals in the first 6 minutes of the game in Zurich to get Lisbon rolling in a game that saw the two teams tied in shots on goal 28-28. But Moulson didn’t stop at two goals. He assisted on Damon Severson’s first EURO League goal and then he completed the hat trick with a snipe in the third period after Zurich had scored two times to make it a one-goal game. Moulson is now fifth in the league in scoring, just a point behind linemate Steven Stamkos. Milan Lucic leads the league, with Jonathan Toews of Bratislava and Loui Eriksson of Berlin in second and third place, respectively. The bad news for Lisbon is that center Ryan Kesler has become the latest in a long list of EURO players who sustained a groin injury. He will be out at least one week. Teammate Joe Pavelski as well as Moscow’s Duncan Keith, Berlin’s Ryan Callahan and Oslo’s Tomas Hertl are just the latest players to be sidelined with groin injuries. Lisbon’s injuries, both at center, have forced some line shuffling. Fourth-liner Alexei Kalyuzhny is up on the second line now, with Mike Fisher and young winger Reid Boucher called up to fill in holes on the third and fourth lines. Not that he minds it, but John Tavares, the team’s first-line center, will get a real workout as the choice to take faceoffs on all of Lisbon’s specialty units.

Geneva 6, Prague 2 – Young Prague Sparta goalie Andrey Vasilevskiy had a rough outing, giving up 4 goals on 6 shots before being pulled, but the lead he granted Geneva was too much to recover from in Switzerland’s westernmost city. Six different players scored for the Generals with Valeri Nichushkin and Matt Read notching two-point games. Justin Schultz assisted on both Prague goals.

Belfast 6, Paris 2 – Either the Rouges Eiffels were terrible in their visit to the Emerald Isle, or the Giants were great. Belfast outshot Paris 41-9. The Eiffels’ frustration was evident early, as Kyle Turris took a major penalty for slashing in the first period and then was given a game misconduct when he slammed his stick against the glass, shattering it and causing a long delay. The Giants’ top two lines, centered by Claude Giroux and Matt Duchene were both effective in the game, with Giroux, Duchene and James Neal all picking up three points.

Oslo 5, Copenhagen 2 – The Tridents were ahead 2-1 as the third period, but the Outlaws erupted for four goals in the final period to take the win. Andrei Loktionov and Devante Smith-Pelly scored two goals each in the period. Smith-Pelly also picked up an assist and was named the game’s first star. Six Outlaws had multi-point games thanks to the great third period they put together.

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