Today's recap will feature a lot of vowels and umlauts... as the Kanada-malje quarterfinals kicked off throughout Finland.
Jokerit 1, HIFK 0 (Jokerit leads series 1-0): Nothing like the Helsinki derby to kick off the playoffs, as the historic rivals played a tight game in which HIFK pressed, but couldn't solve former Slovakian national team goaltender Jan Lasak, who made 39 saves for the shutout. Tomi Mäki scored the game's only goal with 2:26 to play in the second period, but perhaps the most impactful moment of the game occurred before that. HIFK's Mikael Granlund, the Minnesota Wild first rounder who missed the 2011 WJCs with a concussion, was hit hard while crossing in front of Lasak by Jokerit captain Ossi Väänänen. Granlund was driven into Lasak, and ended up bouncing his face off the goal post. He tried to return, and played 12:49 total for the game, but eventually left and is considered day-to-day. Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune claimed he was cross-checked in the face, but as you can clearly see, it was a big hit into the net, and not a headshot or cross-check:
Blues (Espoo) 4, Ässät (Pori) 3 (OT) (Blues lead series 1-0): The Blues had to make the quarterfinals via a qualifier series, and got the much sought after first road win thanks to an OT winner from veteran centre Stefan Öhman. Petri Lammassaari had a goal and an assist for the Blues, while Ryan Caldwell led Ässät with three assists. For the draft curious, Ässät winger Joel Armia had just stepped out of the penalty box at the time of the OT winner, and had six shots to go with his two minor penalties in 17:15 of ice time.
JYP (Jyväskylä) 7, Ilves (Tampere) 3 (JYP leads series 1-0): Eric Perrin had a hat trick and an assist, a trio of players had three point nights (Ossi Louhivaara, Harri Pesonen, Jani Tuppurainen), plus a goal and an assist from young star d-man Sami Vatanen propelled the regular season champs to a big win in Game 1. Shots were 43-30 for the home side, and even though the score indicates a lopsided game, it wasn't until the third period that things really broke open.
KalPa (Kuopio) 3, Lukko (Rauma) 2 (KalPa leads series 1-0): Sakari Salminen had two goals for KalPa to lead the way to an early road win in this series. These two teams finished dead even in points at 98 for the season, so this promises to be the most closely contested series of the bunch. Ari Ahonen was sharp early for KalPa, turning aside 16 first period shots and making 34 saves total for the win.
Saturday's Games: JYP @ Ilves; Ässät @ Blues, HIFK @ Jokerit, Lukko @ KalPa (All games at 5:30 PM CET/12:30 PM EST).
Linköping 4, Skellefteå 2 (Series tied 3-3): Mikko Lehtonen finally scored, but Linköping's Patrick Zackrisson one upped him, and Jan Hlavac provided the winner with 5:28 to play as Linköping played a desperate game while on the ropes. Martin Laumann Ylven was ejected from the game very early for a boarding major at 1:54, but Skellefteå only managed a single goal on the five minute powerplay and Linköping was fairly disciplined the rest of the way. Shots were 35-23 for the home team. The series concludes back in Skellefteå on Sunday.
Djurgården 2, Luleå 0 (Series tied 3-3): Could we have yet ANOTHER 0-3 comeback? We already saw one in the Slovak Extraliga this year, and we've seen them recently in the NHL and OHL as well. Mark Owuya posted his second straight shutout, making 26 saves in front of a sold out crowd at the Globe Arena in Stockholm. Matthias Tjärnqvist scored the opening (and winning) goal at 12:27 of the third period, and added an assist on Kristofer Ottosson's insurance goal just 1:19 later. Djurgården will look to make history on Sunday up in Luleå.
Saturday's Kvalserien Games: Rögle @ Södertälje; Örebrö @ Växjö; MODO @ Mora (All games at 4:00 PM CET/11:00 AM EST).
Kontinental Hockey League (Russia)
Atlant Moscow Oblast 2, SKA St. Petersburg 1 (Series tied 3-3): Jan Marek scored the winner just 1:16 into the third period and had an assist on the other Atlant goal as they forced a 7th game with a sound, disciplined game. Atlant took only one penalty in the game, and Konstantin Barulin was solid making 27 saves for the win. Game 7 is back in St. Petersburg on Sunday.
Saturday's Game: Avangard Omsk @ Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Omsk leads series 3-2), 1:00 PM CET/8:00 AM EST.
Slovnaft Extraliga (Slovakia)
HC Kosice 5, Dukla Trencin 1 (Kosice wins series 4-0): Dukla Trencin, who came back from an 0-3 deficit against HC Slovan Bratislava, found the team from Slovakia's second city to be too daunting in the end. Kosice have swept their way to the national finals, thanks to two goals from Stanislav Gron as well as a power play that went 3 for 6. Kosice lost only nine games all regular season (3 in OT/SO), and look like a safe bet to win it all in the playoffs as well.
Saturday's Game: HK Poprad @ HC 05 Banská Bystrica (Series Tied 1-1), 6:00 PM CET/1:00 PM EST.
Deutsche Eishockey Liga (Germany)
Kölner Haie 4, EHC München 3 (Köln wins play-in 2-0): Christoph Ullman scored early in the third to give Köln a 4-1 lead, and it ended up being the winner as Jordan Webb scored twice for Munich to make it a close finish. Jason Jaspers had a goal and an assist while Ivan Ciernik had two assists in the win. The win gives Köln the pleasure of playing the regular season leaders Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg in the quarterfinals, which doesn't start until Wednesday.
Adler Mannheim 3, Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers 2 (Adler wins play-in 2-0): Another sweep, as Yannic Seidenberg scored twice in the third period, including the game winner with 34 seconds left on a power play. Mannheim dominated the shot department in this game, outshooting the Ice Tigers 42-14. Patrick Ehelechner was heroic in defeat, keeping his team in a game they probably didn't deserve to be in. Mannheim will face the DEG Metro Stars in the quarterfinals.
Western Hockey League (Canada/USA)
Key Games: Red Deer 4, Edmonton 3; Prince Albert 6, Swift Current 3; Prince George 3, Kamloops 2 (SO); Portland 4, Everett 3; Spokane 5, Seattle 0.
With their win, Red Deer clinches the Central Division title and the #2 seed, which looks like it will be the same Oil Kings team they just beat (and play again tonight). The Prince Albert Raiders clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with their win, setting up a date with their arch rivals the Saskatoon Blades. With their shootout win, the Prince George Cougars have clinched a playoff spot in the Western Conference, although their final placing and opponent are yet to be determined. The loss eliminates the Kamloops Blazers from contention, and Everett's magic number for clinching a spot over Seattle is just one: a single point gained by Everett or left on the table by Seattle will put the Silvertips into the playoffs. Besides that, all that's left to figure out is who wins the U.S. Division: Portland holds a one point lead on Spokane with two games to play.
Saturday's Key Games: Everett @ Chilliwack; Portland @ Seattle; Spokane @ Tri-City.
Ontario Hockey League (Canada/USA)
Key Game: Ottawa 4, Oshawa 3.
Saturday's Key Games: Sudbury @ Belleville; Peterborough @ Barrie.
With their win, the Ottawa 67's are the East Division winners, likely setting up a date in the first round with the Sudbury Wolves, the seventh seed. The eighth seed in the Eastern Conference is the focus of Saturday's action, as the pathetic race between Belleville and Peterborough may finally reach a conclusion. Of course, Barrie is even worse than Peterborough, and Sudbury is a fair bit better than Belleville, so we might be dragging this out for one more day.
National League A (Switzerland)
Saturday's Games: SC Bern @ Kloten Flyers (Kloten leads series 2-0), 7:45 CET/2:45 PM EST; EV Zug @ HC Davos (Davos leads series 2-0), 8:10 PM CET/3:10 PM EST; Ambri-Piotta @ Rapperswil Lakers (Ambri leads play-out 2-0), 7:45 PM CET/2:45 PM EST.
Czech Extraliga (Czech Rep.)
Saturday's Game: HC Eaton Pardubice @ HC Viktovice Steel (Game 1 of league semifinal), 5:00 PM CET/12:00 PM EST.