(2) SKA 1
(8) Lokomotiv 0
SKA leads the series 1-0
Patrick Thoresen maintained his scoring streak to give SKA a tight victory in the series opener against Lokomotiv.
The Norwegian had scored in, who the previous three games to help see off CSKA, got the only goal of the night in the fourth minute. It was a good one, too, rounding off a slick coast-to-coast move by gliding one to Roman Cervenka’s diagonal and slotting a one-timer past the exposed Curtis Sanford in the Lokomotiv goal.
As well as continuing Thoresen’s goal rush, it also maintained Cervenka’s impressive play-off form, taking the Czech to 3+6 in five post-season games.
SKA continued to dominate the opening session, but couldn’t add to its lead. However, perhaps aided by a week’s additional rest while Lokomotiv was battling through a draining seven-game struggle against Dynamo, the home team was able to hold its opponent at bay fairly comfortably. Loko managed just 18 shots all night, evenly spread through the three periods, and while it was never overwhelmed it was clear that the Army Men always had a slight edge. The visiting coach later admitted that his team’s passing had suffered and the players appeared tired.
Not that SKA’s extra preparations were a pure blessing: two players, Evgeny Ketov and Artemy Panarin, picked up injuries and are not expected to be involved in this series. The home team also failed to take its chances to build up a more comfortable lead in the second period, and coach Jukka Jalonen admitted that at times his team had been fortunate to escape punishment for some occasionally casual play.
But opinions aside, the one key fact in this game was delivered by Thoresen, and that’s what separates the teams ahead of game two tomorrow.
(3) Lev 5
(4) Donbass 2
Lev leads the series 1-0
A controversial refereeing call set Lev on the way to a comfortable victory in game one of its series against Donbass. When Justin Azevedo zinged a wrister off the post in the 15th minute, it initially seemed that the puck had bounced harmlessly back into play. But the video official, after a long look, saw things differently, awarding Lev the opening goal of the night.
The breakthrough came in a tense opening period that saw the teams produce just 10 shots on goal between them, and the decision clearly disappointed Donbass coach Andrei Nazarov, who immediately called the game officials over to request an explanation. However, if there were doubts about the opener there could be little doubt about Lev’s superiority in a blistering second stanza which saw the home team shake off some of those shackles to score four unanswered goals.
Two goals in the 24th minute proved decisive, and spelled the end of goalie Jan Laco’s evening. First Jakub Matai fired home after Laco gave up a big rebound on a Calle Ridderwall shot, then 45 seconds later Jiri Novotny lifted the puck over the goalie’s pads at the second attempt.
Michael Leighton came into the game, but he also had little luck. Petr Vrana reacted brilliantly to tip home a Marc-Andre Gragnani shot before Niko Kapanen picked out Patrik Zackrisson in free ice in front of goal to make it 5-0.