Peter Ekelund and Per-Age Skroder both scored in the first two minutes and Swedish champion HV 71 defeated Dukla Trencin 4-1 Friday to eliminate the Slovakian club from the inaugural European Champions Cup.
It was Dukla's second loss in as many days and pits HV 71 against Russia's Avangard on Saturday for the Group A title and a place in tomorrow's final.
In another game, Jussi Jokinen and Josef Boumedienne each had a goal and an assist to lift Karpat Oulu over Czech club HC Hame Zlin 4-1 and send the Finnish champion to today's final Group B game against the Frankfurt Lions for a place in the title match.
League champions from six European nations are competing in two groups.
Avangard beat Dukla 6-1 on Thursday to give it a chance at Sunday's championship while Frankfurt, despite a 4-3 loss to Zlin on Thursday, still has a chance at the title game.
Ekelund gave HV 71 the lead 72 seconds into the game when he picked up Johan Davidsson's pass, skated behind the net and beat goalie Robert Kompas into the opposite upper corner.
Skroder knocked in Kalle Sahlstedt's pass from behind the goal 46 seconds later and defender Simon Skoog extended the lead at 6:53.
HV 71 goalie Stefan Liv, who made 17 saves in the match, was seldom tested in the first period. He thrwarted St. Louis Blues winger Pavol Demitra, playing while locked out in the North American National Hockey League's labor impasse, on a breakway midway through the second period before Columbus Blue Jackets defender Anders Eriksson increased the lead to 4-0 on a power-play with 4:22 remaining in the game.
Peter Fabus scored a consolation power-play goal for Dukla less then two minutes later.
Karpat scored all its goals on power plays and goalie Niklas Backstrom made 30 saves to lead the Finns to victory despite being outshot 31-16.
Jokinen converted a two-man advantage to give Karpat the lead two minutes into the game. Jokinen, unmarked in the right circle, scored off Boumedienne's pass from behind the goal.
Zlin missed its chance in the first period when it had four power plays and outshot Karpat 13-1, but failed to convert.
Czech league scoring leader Jaroslav Balastik tied the game 1-1 on a power play at 4:32 into the second period but Juha-Pekka Haataja put Karpat back in front at 15:40 and forward Petr Tenkrat redirected Jokinen's pass to make it 3-1 with five seconds left in the second period.
Boumedienne sealed the win with a slap shot from the blue line midway through the third.
ap, CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy
Never having scored more than 18 goals in six seasons in North America's National Hockey League, Matt Cullen is enjoying his lockout-imposed respite in Italy.
Through 28 games, the 28-year-old center leads the Italian league with 22 goals and 45 points and has Cortina -- without a title in 30 years -- two points atop the 10-team standings.
"What got me excited about coming over here was playing in the World Championship in Prague," said Cullen, who was a member of the US' bronze-medal team in May. "I really liked the open style of play, so as soon as the lockout began I knew I wanted to come back over here."
Cullen has spent his six NHL seasons with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Florida Panthers, and signed as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes in August before the lockout sent him to Cortina in September.