NHL Premiere Series - Berlin

Rangers, Sabres, Ducks, and Kings to begin next season in Europe

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The NHL has made it an annual tradition to have a host of their teams start the season in Europe and next season will mark the fifth straight season the NHL Premiere Series will take place. Next season, they’ll be adding a new location as well as the NHL will play its first regular season game in Berlin, Germany as the NHL sends four teams across the Atlantic.

The Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers, and Buffalo Sabres will all kick off their seasons in three European cities next year as the NHL returns to Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden as well as Berlin for the start of the 2011-2012 season.

Instead of having the teams close to each other pair off and play a pair of games against each other, there’s going to be some East vs. West flavor to the games. On October 7, the Ducks and Sabres will face off at Hartwalll Areena in Helsinki while the Rangers and Kings go at it at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm.

With the Ducks in Finland, we can hope that perhaps Teemu Selanne decides to give it one more year and play in front of the fans in his home country. Henrik Lundqvist getting to play in his home country has to  be a huge treat for him.

October 8 sees the Sabres and Kings face each other at the O2 Arena in Berlin, the first NHL game to be played there. Remember that for wacky trivia purposes. The Ducks and Rangers will play in Stockholm that night as well. Hey, Henrik Lundqvist plays two-night stands when he does his European tour.

It’s fun for many of the European players on these teams to get a chance to head back across the ocean for even a short series and some exhibition games to rally friends and family that can’t make it to North America to see them play. It also helps spur the talk that someday in the future the NHL will expand into Europe. We’re not buying that that will happen anytime soon, but it creates some fun discussion.

Personally, we’d love to see a Champions League format where the Stanley Cup winner faces off against the winners of the major professional leagues in Europe from Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, and Russia the way it’s done in soccer. There’s probably a better chance of the NHL having a European division than there is of that happening though. Ahh pipe dreams.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.