Berlin Smurfs fall for old decoy trick

Paris 6, Berlin 0 – The Paris Rouges Eiffels employed an interesting strategy on their trip into Berlin Thursday. Knowing the Smurfs hate and fear the league’s all-time co-leader in goals and second-best point producer ever – Evgeny Malkin – they used him as a decoy. Malkin, who played with the wrong curve on his stick to give the Smurfs a fighting chance, just skated leisurely around the neutral zone each shift, taking two and sometimes three Smurfs with him. He didn’t take a shot, nor block a shot, nor hit anyone … he just skated around slowly from blueline to blueline and Berlin Coach Adam Oates never caught on to the distraction ploy. The result was that huge holes opened up throughout the Smurf structure and Paris exploited them, outshooting the home team 43-22 and outscoring them 6-0. Mike Richards scored three times and had a 5-point game, prompting Paris Coach Michel Therrien to say, “Next game against Berlin, we will have Richards and Malkin skate around the neutral zone at the same time. That should open up a lot of 3-on-the goalie situations.”

Lisbon 6, Oslo 1 – Matt Moulson and Steven Stamkos each had 4-point games and Kari Ramo did much better in goal for Lisbon than Outlaw starter Semyon Varlamov did. Lisbon defenseman Seth Jones also powered in a pair of goals for the winners. Jones now has 12 goals this season, which is equal to the number of times he scored in the previous three seasons combined. Moulson, meanwhile, will tie his careeer-best numbers with 5 more goals and 8 more points this season. Stamkos is the league’s all-time points leader and he is tied with Malkin for the most goals ever with 293.

Minsk 5, Gothenburg 2 – Minsk used its tried and true recipe of strong defense and a dominant top line to chalk up another victory. Milan Lucic, the league’s leading scorer, and linemates Patrick Kane and Nicklas Backstrom all had multi-point games and they scored three of the team’s five goals. Colin Wilson scored the other two. Alec Martinez and Jordan Eberle scored Gothenburg’s goals. It was not all good news for the Hussars. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto, a three-time all-star and starter for the North this season will be out of the lineup with a groin injury. Tamir Ganbold, who has been a seventh defenseman for the Hussars since the league started, will take Del Zotto’s place. The sturdy Mongolian Ganbold has played in 105 EURO games in his career and has scored 6 goals and 22 points. Last season, he played in 19 games and was a plus 16.

Moscow 3, Dublin 0 – The game was a tight one with Moscow goalie Alexander Salak emerging as the first star. He compiled a 30-save shutout to deny Dublin points in a very tight race with Edinburgh for the final playoff spot in the Northern Conference. Moscow got a big goal from Jannik Hansen in the second period to take a 1-0 lead and then in the third period, Ryan O’Reilly pretty much iced the game away with two goals, his 29th and 30th of the year.

Helsinki 6, St. Petersburg 2 – Defensemen Nerius Alisauskas and Matthew Dumba provided the offense for Helsinki, scoring twice each, with Helsinki dominating in shots on goal in the end by a 43-24 margin. Jonathan Huberdeau scored two powerplay goals for St. Petersburg, both assisted by Joe Thornton, and when those goals went in, the Krasnyye Zvezdy enjoyed a short-lived lead. St. Pete got caught up in the hitting game that Helsinki typically plays and that might have hurt them. Erik Johnson and Darnell Nurse combined for 13 hits but some of those seemed to take them out of position.

Edinburgh 3, Prague 0 – The Capitals managed to score a goal in each period and goalie Jakub Kovar stopped all 23 Prague shots to make 14,518 Scotsmen happy on Thursday. Jamie Benn scored the game’s first goal early against Ondrej Pavelec and Casey Cizikas made it 2-0 with a back-breaking shorthanded goal early in the second. Sidney Crosby added an empty-net goal with 25 seconds remaining. Gurkan Cetinkaya had 2 assists and 4 blocked shots for Edinburgh, while Mark Scheifele had 4 blocks for Sparta.

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