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Labbé keeps Augsburg alive
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März 25, 2005; 02:33
Labbé keeps Augsburg alive
Mannheim takes 3-1 lead over Nuremberg
Frank Johne

Ingolstadt's Jakub Ficenec scored the last-minute GWG against Cologne
 
Ingolstadt's Jakub Ficenec scored the last-minute GWG against Cologne

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Munich, Germany - Jean-Francois Labbé made a mind-boggling 59 saves as the Augsburger Panther avoided a first-round sweep at the hands of the Berlin Eisbären Thursday night with a close home win in Game 4. Like Berlin, the Mannheim Adler are only one win away from the DEL semifinals after edging the Nürnberg Ice Tigers at home. The other two best-of-seven opening round series are tied at two games apiece. The relegation series is also knotted after four games as the Kassel Huskies managed to bounce back from Tuesday's 7-0 rout.
 

59 saves: JF Labbé kept his Panthers alive for at least one more game
Sharp goaltending: JF Labbé kept his Panthers alive with a 59-save effort
Leading DEL Scorers
(as of Feb 19, 2005)

Hamburg beats Frankfurt, evens series

With Boris Rousson back in net, the 8th-seeded Hamburg Freezers skated to a 4-2 (0-0, 2-0, 2-2) home win over the top-seeded Frankfurt Lions, tying the series at 2-2. Bobby House led the way with a pair of goals, including the eventual game winner. House scored on the two-man advantage at 7:03 of the third to give Hamburg a 3-0 lead. The Lions bounced back, cutting the lead to 3-2 on a pair of power-play goals of their own. Jason Young and Pat Lebeau scored back-to-back within a span of 90 seconds to bring Frankfurt within a goal at the 11:52-mark of the third. Hamburg protected its lead behind the goaltending of Rousson, who made 24 saves for his second win in his second playoff start in place of Jean-Sebastien Giguere. An empty-netter by Jacek Plachta capped the scoring at 4-2 16 ticks from the final horn. Back-to-back scores by Dave Tomlinson and House had given Hamburg a 2-0 lead just past the midway point of the second period.

Augsburg wins 11-goal shootout against Berlin

Jean-Francois Labbé made a mind-boggling 59 saves as the Augsburger Panther avoided a first-round sweep at the hands of the Berlin Eisbären Thursday night with a close home win in Game 4. Like Berlin, the Mannheim Adler are only one win away from the DEL semifinals after edging the Nürnberg Ice Tigers at home. The other two best-of-seven opening round series are tied at two games apiece. The relegation series is also knotted after four games as the Kassel Huskies managed to bounce back from Tuesday's 7-0 rout.

The 2nd-seeded Berlin Eisbären, who swept through the first two rounds of last year's DEL playoffs, have to play a fifth game back home against the 7th-seeded Augsburger Panther after dropping Game 4, 6-5 (1-4, 0-2, 4-0) on the road. The game appeared to be over when Rick Girard's second power-play goal gave Augsburg a 6-1 lead at 8:44 of the second. But the game went down to the wire after a four-goal third-period rally by Berlin. Panthers goalie Jean-Francois made two big saves in the waning second to protect the lead.

Labbé's 59-save effort was one of the keys to Augsburg's win. The Eisbären dominated the early going but had nothing to show for it. Brian Felsner put the Panthers on the scoreboard at the 13:10-mark. A nifty pass by Francois Fortier sent Felsner skating in 1-on-0 on Berlin's Oliver Jonas, who made his second straight start in relief of the injured Olaf Kölzig. Jonas stopped Felsner's backhanded attempt, but the Panthers forward squeezed the rebound between Jonas' right pad and the goal post to put Augsburg up 1-0. Just 89 seconds later, Björn Barta intercepted an ill-fated diagonal pass from Jens Baxmann right in front of the Eisbären net and beat the sprawling Jonas to double the lead to 2-0. Daniel Rau notched the third tally within a span of 2:26, making it 3-0 on a low shot from the left slot after a centering feed by Francois Methot, who had stormed down the left wing. Mark Beaufait got Berlin on the scoreboard, 3-1, with a low shot from the left slot on the man advantage with 2:21 remaining in the first. But Augsburg had the final word in the opening period when Rick Girard re-directed home a one-timer by Fortier on the power-play to make it 4-1 60 seconds before the buzzer.

Things continued to go in Augsburg's favor when Eric Cole got ejected after a crushing open ice hit on Arvids Rekis late in the first. Cole's shoulder hit Rekis on the head which automatically draws a major plus match penalty in Germany. Rekis was taken to a nearby hospital with a suspected concussion.

Augsburg failed to cash in on the ensuing power-play, but the Panthers added on to their lead when Felsner beat Jonas with a high wrister to the glove side on a 2-on-1 rush 7:27 into the middle frame. Jonas, who had stopped only 7 of the 12 shots he faced, was replaced by youngster Youri Ziffzer. The floodgates seemed to open when Ziffzer got beaten after less than a minute. On the man advantage Girard tucked home the rebound of a shot by John Miner from the right point to make it 6-1.

Just seconds before, another Eisbären forward got ejected from the game. Sven Felski was assessed a slashing major plus game misconduct for a hit on Panthers player Daniel Rau. Video footage later revealed that Felski's teammate Shawn Heins had delivered the vicious blow.

Instead of falling apart, the Eisbären found back into the game. Ziffzer played well, recording 14 saves in his 31-minute appearance. The momentum shifted and Berlin cut Augsburg's lead to 6-3 on two quick power-play goals early in the third period. Denis Pederson struck from the doorstep at the 2:09-mark and defenseman Derrick Walser connected on a one-timer from the right face-off circle at 4:25. Then Rob Shearer skated through the neutral zone and ripped a slightly screened slapper from center point past Labbé to bring Berlin within two goals, 6-4, with just under nine minutes to go in the game. All of a sudden, the "Polar Bears" had the Panthers on their heals. Micki DuPont made it 6-5 with 27 seconds to go. Berlin was all over the Panthers net, but thanks to Labbé's goaltending magic, Augsburg survived the late rally.

Mannheim one win away from semifinals

The 6th-seeded Mannheim Adler are just one win away from upsetting the 3rd-seeded Nürnberg Ice Tigers. Yannick Tremblay's power-play tally at 7:07 of the third turned out to be the game winner after Nuremberg had erased an early 3-1 deficit. Tremblay connected on a blueline blast to lift Mannheim to a 4-3 (3-1, 0-1, 1-1) home victory.

Adler goalie Cristobal Huet had another big night, stopping 35 of the 38 shots he faced. Nuremberg's youngster Lukas Lang, who started in place of inconsistent first-stringer Adam Svoboda, recorded 17 saves in his first career playoff start.

Dramatic finish in Ingolstadt

The series between the 4th-seeded Kölner Haie and 5th-seeded ERC Ingolstadt is tied up again, 2-2. Ingolstadt prevailed 4-2 (0-0, 1-0, 3-2) at home after a highly dramatic finish.

Ingolstadt went ahead in the second period when Jamie Langenbrunner took advantage of a mix-up in the Cologne defense at the 1:56-mark. A power-play tally by Ken Sutton doubled the lead early in the third. Trailing 2-0 with under three minutes left in the game, the Haie put on an amazing rally, tying the score on back-to-back tallies from Colin Beardsmore and Dave McLlwain (PP) within a span of 47. With only 1:53 remaining, the game seemed to be headed for overtime.

But Ingolstadt had a response. With heavy traffic in front of Haie netminder Chris Rogles, defenseman Jakub Ficenec found the back of the net to make it 3-2 with 59 seconds left. Doug Ast fired in an empty-netter to round off the scoring at 4-2.

Kassel ties relegation series

Goalie Joaquin Gage recorded 34 saves on the night as the Kassel Huskies bounced back from Tuesday's 7-0 rout to tie the DEL relegation series against Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg at 2-2 with a 4-2 (1-0, 1-2, 2-0) home win. Ted Drury's short-handed goal, which made it 3-2 39 seconds into the final stanza, went down as the game-winner. A goal by Brian Swanson with 9:01 to go capped the scoring.
Frank Johne

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