Belfast, Bratislava move on; other two series locked at 2-2

Two teams are through to the conference finals in their respective conferences, while the four remaining teams are locked in 2-2 series.

Belfast eliminated Copenhagen in short order, allowing just three Trident goals in the four games. Just about the whole Belfast gang contributed to the series win. The line of Ondrej Palat, Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene did the damage in a 3-0 win in Game 1; Claude Giroux and James Neal were the Tridents’ nemeses in Game 2, and in demoralizing Game 3 – Copenhagen outshot Belfast 46-22 but still lost – Jonathan Quick was virtually impenetrable in goal. The game-winning goal in that game came in overtime off the stick of defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and that seemed to propel him in Game 4, when he scored twice. Fellow blueliner Micki Dupont also scored a pair as the Giants sent Copenhagen packing.

Bratislava picked up where it left off after Round 1, putting together a couple of high-shot count, low-penalty minute games to win two at home, then they conquered Milan in Italy twice, although their momentum seemed to slow just a bit. Like Belfast did, Bratislava spread the scoring came from many sources. Tyler Myers scored a goal in three of the four games, so did Alexander Ovechkin, and right wingers Tyler Ennis and Tyler Toffoli were dangerous throughout the series. Game 2 saw 10 Bratislava players score a point each. The Eagles outshot the Guerriero 45-17 in Game 1, then 36-20, 53-23 and 33-21 in the other games.

Belfast awaits the winner of the Moscow-Milan series. The home team has won every time so far and Minsk has the extra home game in the series, if it comes to that. Carey Price, the Hussars goalie, was impeccable at home, allowing just two goals in two games, but in front of a hostile crowd in Russia, he seemed rattled, giving up 5 goals in one game and 4 in another. Alexander Salak, Moscow’s goalie, has been consistent, giving up an average of 3 per game. And he held off a Minsk rally in Game 4 that scored twice in the third period and nearly tied the game. Kyle Palmieri was Moscow’s hero in Game 3 because he scored twice in the third period to break a 3-3 tie and give Moscow its first win of the series. Game 2, played in Belarus, turned into a shooting gallery in Salak’s end as Minsk outshot Moscow 52-16. Jacob Josefson, Patrick Kane and Nicklas Backstrom were flying that game and poured a combined 23 shots on the Moscow goal in a 4-1 win. In Game 1, Josefson was the star. He scored both Minsk goals in a 2-1 win.

Lisbon and Athens are knocking each other around like a pair of brothers fighting over a new game console. The home team has outshot the visitors in every game of this series, but not by a lot. Through the four games, Lisbon has one more shot on goal than Athens has and goalies Kari Ramo and Jaroslav Halak have both been very busy. Each team has won a one-goal road game in the series, with Lisbon’s Drew Doughty being credited with the game-winner in Game 1 and Athens’ ageless Patrick Marleau scoring the winner early in OT in Game 3. The 38-year-old Marleau had 29 points in 69 regular season games, and he has really turned it on in the playoffs, with 6 goals and 3 assists in 11 games. But Logan Couture has been a playoff god for the Gods. He has scored in every game of this series and has 24 points in 11 playoff games and a league-leading 60 shots on goal. Wayne Simmonds came through in a big way for Lisbon in Game 4, scoring a hat trick and teammate Steven Stamkos has a goal in three of the four games.

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