Day four of the KHL play-offs saw three out of four games go to overtime, and the match between Dinamo Riga and Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod became the longest encounter of the season so far. It wasn't until the 94th minute that Dinamo finally clinched the win in Latvia to forge ahead 2-1 in the series. Elsewhere Dynamo Moscow racked up a third successive win over Dinamo Minsk, while CSKA and Severstal picked up their first wins of the post-season campaign.
Still in contention
(8) CSKA Moscow 3 OT
(1) SKA St. Petersburg 2
SKA lead the series 2-1
CSKA Moscow bounced back from two heavy defeats to reignite its series against SKA St. Petersburg thanks to an overtime goal from Denis Parshin. The forward pounced on 65:49, firing home from four meters to spark both joy and relief among the home fans.
But earlier it seemed as if the game was destined to go the same way as the clashes in St. Petersburg during the week. On 9:32 Ivan Nepryayev fired SKA in front after great work from Fyodor Fedorov, and on 13:34 young Vladimir Tarasenko kept up his goal-a-game record in the play-offs after beating Rastislav Stana with a powerful effort from a face-off in the left channel.
This time, though, CSKA found a way back: Sergei Andronov forced the puck home after a scramble on the crease on 16:40, and Niclas Persson tied it up just before halfway, with Parshin getting the assist. The teams do battle again in Moscow on Sunday with SKA 2-1 ahead in the series.
One step away
(6) Dinamo Minsk 2
(3) Dynamo Moscow 4
Dynamo lead the series 3-0
Dynamo Moscow is one game away from becoming the first team to book its place in the conference semi-final after a 4-2 win at Dinamo Minsk. The victory opens up a 3-0 led in the series and reaffirms the potential of young forward Mikhail Anisin.
Anisin, 24, added two more goals to the pair he scored on Thursday, and claimed an assist on Ilya Gorokhov's opener as Dynamo made a bright start. Konstantin Gorovikov, who finished with 1+3, scored the third goal on 11:38 to put Dynamo in control early on.
That advantage was never seriously threatened, despite goals for Andrei Stas and Geoff Platt to keep the scoreline respectable for the Belarusians. And on Sunday the teams clash again with Dinamo Minsk knowing it's win-or-bust as Dynamo stand on the brink of clearing the first round of the play-offs for the first time since 2009.
(7) Dinamo Riga 4 2OT
(2) Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 3
Dinamo lead the series 2-1
Dinamo Riga inched ahead in its series against Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod with a stoppage time win in Latvia. Janis Sprukts finally settled the game on 93:03. The decisive strike came at the end of an epic struggle, stretching deep into a second period of overtime after the teams shared 28 unsuccessful shots in the first 20-minute period of extras.
Earlier Ilya Krikunov had been instrumental in Torpedo opening up a 3-1 lead for his team - grabbing the opening goal on 1:23 and creating the third goal for Mikhail Varnakov with a defense-splitting pass early in the second period. Varnakov, who scored a hat-trick in the opening game, also chipped in with an assist on Krikunov's opener to remain high in the point-scoring charts for the play-offs.
But Dinamo hit back, launching a counter-attack on the penalty kill to see Mikelis Redlihs set up Girts Ankipans with an open goal to make it 2-3 before Marcel Hossa tied the game at 3-3 on 35:27.
(5) Severstal Cherepovets 2 OT
(4) Atlant Moscow Region 1
Atlant lead the series 2-1
It was a similar story in Cherepovets, where an overtime win for locals Severstal brought them back to to 2-1 in the series with Atlant Moscow Region. Another hard fought game saw the two teams trade early goals - Janne Niskala's wristie put Atlant in front on 6:52 only for Ruslan Nurtdinov to level 13 seconds later with a powerful effort from the left channel.
After that the two sides traded chances, but once again goaltenders Konstantin Barulin (44 saves) and Vasily Koshechkin (34 saves) stood up to everything that was thrown at them until the ninth minute of overtime when Ondrej Nemec got the winner for Severstal.