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Record set, two march on. Western playoffs, Day 4

26.02.2013

Moscow duo Dynamo and CSKA booked their places in the Western Conference semi-finals on Monday, with both teams completing sweeps of their opponents. And it looks likely that the city rivals will face one another in the next stage after SKA St. Petersburg took a 3-1 series lead over Atlant. Assuming SKA finishes the job on Thursday, it will face the winner of the Severstal vs Lokomotiv series, which produced the longest ever game in the KHL before Severstal won 3-2 late in the third period of overtime.

The longest night
(5) Severstal Cherepovets 3 3OT
(4) Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2
Severstal leads the series 3-1

At the end of the longest game in the KHL’s history, lasting an astonishing 118:47, Severstal took control of this Conference Quarter-final thanks to Denis Kazionov’s winner. The goal, which finally broke a 2-2 tie, puts the Cherepovets side 3-1 ahead in the series ahead of Thursday’s return to Yaroslavl.

Earlier, much earlier, the teams traded goals in an uncharacteristic flurry in the first period. Alexei Medvedev put Severstal in front in the 14th minute, but it was Loko which led at the first interval thank to Alexander Chernikov and Alexander Guskov. Mikhail Anisin atoned for an early missed penalty shot to tie it up midway through the second, but after that the goalies took over as the scores remained tied until deep into the third period of overtime. Loko’s Curtis Sanford was by far the busier man – from the start of the third period he made 52 saves to Vasily Koshechkin’s 29.

The previous record for the longest game was set by Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Avangard Omsk in March 2011, when they played out 109:11 before Avangard claimed a 3-2 win. Monday’s game took so long that it finished after the game in Prague, which had started two-and-a-half hours later than the epic encounter in Cherepovets.

Defending champion progresses
(6) Slovan Bratislava 2
(3) Dynamo Moscow 3
Dynamo wins the series 4-0

Twelve months ago Dynamo swept past Dinamo Minsk without dropping a single game – and the class of 2013 has repeated that feat at the expense of Slovan Bratislava. The Slovak side struggled to contain Czech forward Jakub Petruzalek throughout the series and the former Amur took his personal tally to five in four games when he opened the scoring in the 12th minute.

The issue was settled in the second session, with Sergei Konkov and Janne Jalasvaara stretching Dynamo’s lead to 3-0, but Slovan battled back hard in the final period. Ivan Svarny and Vladimir Mihalik brought it back to 2-3 by 46:24, prompting a Dynamo time-out to try to calm the nerves and break the home team’s momentum. Fuelled by a rush of adrenaline, Slovan perhaps tried too hard to find the equalizer, and paid the penalty with two quick trips to the sin-bin which allowed the Blue-and-Whites to reassert some control over the game and hold on for a narrow – but decisive – win.

CSKA marches on
(7) Lev Prague 1
(2) CSKA Moscow 2
CSKA wins the series 4-0

For the first time since 2009, CSKA made it through the first round of the playoffs following a sweep of Lev Prague. But once again the Army Men had to dig deep to overcome a spirited opponent in a hard-fought clash.

Twice before in this series the teams have gone to overtime, and there was little to choose between them on the night in Prague. But Alexander Radulov has been the key figure in this series, and he produced two more assists to set CSKA on the road to victory. The first beneficiary was his brother, Igor, late in the first period; the second goal went to Sergei Shirokov, early in the second. Former Army Man Mikko Maenpaa pulled one back on 25 minutes for Lev.

CSKA’s last playoff series win, a sweep against Lada Togliatti, set up a series with city rival Dynamo. Four years on, history looks set to repeat itself with the capital clubs poised to meet again.

SKA looking strong
(8) Atlant Moscow Region 1
(1) SKA St. Petersburg 6
SKA leads the series 3-1

For the second time in the series SKA handed out a thrashing to Atlant, following up a 7-0 home win in game two with a 6-1 road success on Monday evening. Two goals in each period saw the Petersburg side cruise to another comfortable win, and it’s now hard to see any way back for Atlant in this series.

The breakthrough came early: Mikhail Varnakov slotting home on the counter-attack after just 82 seconds. Artemy Panarin doubled that lead on the powerplay in the 19th minute and things were already looking grim for Atlant.

It got worse after the interval, when a wasted powerplay was further punished by a good finish from Fyodor Fedorov and Maxim Chudinov scored his first goal of the play-offs. By the time Tony Martensson and Alexander Osipov had made it 6-0 in the 47th minute, there was a real danger that SKA would go on and improve on that earlier 7-0 scoreline to set a new club play-off record. Instead Ivan Vishnevsky pulled one back late on, but it was too late to save the game … and surely too late to save the series.

See also

16.04.2014 Lev – a dangerous underdog. Gagarin Cup Final preview, Part 1

10.04.2014 Lev roars into the Big Final. Western final, Game 5

08.04.2014 Loko keeps its hopes alive. Western final, Game 4

07.04.2014 Defensive delight for Lev. Western final, Game 3