SKA, Lev close in on series wins. Western quarterfinals. Day 3

11 March 2014, 04:36

(8) Lokomotiv 2
(1) Dynamo Moscow 1
Dynamo leads the series 2-1

Lokomotiv battled its way back into this series thanks to a 2-1 home win over Dynamo Moscow. The Railwaymen had picked up plaudits for their performances in the capital, but needed to post victories fast if the defending champion was to be denied.

Loko certainly wasted little time in posting the first marker: Geoff Platt’s one-timer from the edge of the circle opened the scoring in the ninth minute, assisted by two of Dynamo’s title-winning roster from last season, Sergei Konkov and Ilya Gorokhov. But the home team was unable to build on that advantage, despite dictating long passages of play in the second session, and when Gorokhov hauled Leo Komarov down Dynamo’s flamboyant Finn silenced the home crowd by converting his penalty shot early in the third.

In game one of this series a Komarov goal tied the scores and Dynamo went on to win in overtime; this time the ending was different. Yury Petrov,  a player who had never managed a play-off goal in his KHL career, picked the perfect moment to break his duck. He fired inside Alexander Yeryomenko’s near-side for what proved to be the winner.


(7) CSKA 1
(2) SKA 2 (1OT)
SKA leads the series 3-0

Roman Cervenka got the overtime winner in Moscow as SKA moved to within a single game of sweeping CSKA. He squeezed a low shot through Jeff Glass’s five-hole from the right-hand face-off spot to snap a 1-1 tie and wrap up a come-from-behind win which edges the series to within a single game of completion.

Cervenka’s goal came in the 72nd minute of a game where once again CSKA had produced more shots on goal without ever looking like finding the cutting edge required to seriously trouble its rival, while penalty trouble also took its toll in a game where all three goals came on the power play.However the home team was also angry about the call on Oleg Saprykin which left it short-handed for that crucial goal. Saprykin received a slashing penalty after a challenge on Alexei Semenov, but insisted the only contact was stick-on-stick.

Home coach John Torchetti refused to discuss that incident – or much else – after the game, saying: “I’m not going to talk about the play. This team’s going to be ready to go tomorrow, we need to fight hard again and that’s all there is to say.”

SKA’s Jukka Jalonen, meanwhile, admitted it had been a tough game: “Special teams are very important and we’re seeing that in every game. In two cases today we had a bit better luck, and that’s why we won it.”

In a bid to give the team some much-needed lift, CSKA even deployed an unlikely-looking blimp in the shape of the club’s equestrian mascot. The Pegasus of the cavalry circled the rink to the strains of the ‘Superman’ theme.

But with leading forward Alexander Radulov injured CSKA was also in search of a superhero on the ice, and it fell to young Nikolai Prokhorkin to engineer the opening goal in the 19th minute. His slick stick-handling blazed a path towards Alexander Salak’s posts, where Enver Lisin fired into the goalie’s pads only for Igor Grigorenko to sweep the loose puck into the net.

A similar chance fell to Alexander Frolov moments later after Jan Mursak led a breakaway but the former Avangard man fluffed his shot and offered Salak a reprieve. That incident sparked a fight which saw six players – including Mursak – sin-binned and prompted further anger on the hooter as several players skated over to continue the debate while the guilty parties made their way to the locker room for the intermission. SKA’s Yury Alexandrov was expelled from the game, while Prokhorkin picked up a 2+10 for reacting to the rabble-rousing.

That penalty further hampered CSKA’s offense and even on a three-minute power play early in the second the home team posed little danger, and gave up its lead soon after. Patrick Thoresen got his second of the play-offs after exchanging passes with Roman Cervenka behind the goal to tie it up in the 27th minute.


(6) Medvescak 2
(3) Lev 5
Lev leads the series 3-0

Martin Thornberg found the net for the third game in a row to help Lev to within one win of reaching the conference semis.

Thornberg opened the scoring in this game midway through the second period, grabbing a short-handed goal after he pounced on an error by Popovic and surged up the ice to score at the second attempt.

Michal Repik stretched that advantage shortly after, but Medvescak hit back immediately to tie it up before the second intermission through Boyd Kane and a SasaMartinovic penalty shot in the 40th minute.

It took Lev until the 50th minute to regain its lead, and when David Ullstrom’s decisive goal arrived there was more than a hint of questionable defending about it. Lev advanced far too easily from behind its own goal and Ullstrom had time and space on the blue line to pick his shot – an opportunity he fully exploited with a blistering wrist shot that gave Barry Brust no chance. Thornberg then added his second of the night before Petr Vrana’s empty-netter took the Prague team to within one game of progress.


(5) Dinamo Riga 7
(4) Donbass 3
Donbass leads the series 2-1

Dinamo Riga roared back into contention in this series with a resounding victory at home to Donbass – but it wasn’t all as straightforward as the final score suggested.

Donbass took the lead three times, starting with a Maxim Yakutsenya goal in the fourth minute. Evgeny Dadonov and Lukas Kaspar also hit the target for the Ukrainian team, but Dinamo kept clawing back the deficit.

The game turned in the 37th minute when Marcel Hossa’s second of the game put Riga up 4-3. Collecting the puck behind Michael Leighton’s goal, he circled the net before picking his spot from two meters out and changing the course of the evening.

From that point on Donbass never got back into the game. Further scores from Andris Dzerins, Kristaps Sotnieks and Lauris Darzins stretched the lead on the night and eroded Donbass’ advantage in the series.