WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS

(2) Jokerit Helsinki 4
(7) Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 6
Torpedo leads the series 1-0

Torpedo sprang the first surprise of this season’s playoffs, downing Jokerit in a high-scoring opening encounter.

The Finns were expected to have the edge in this clash but Nikolai Zherdev turned the game upside down with two goals in two minutes in the first period. Zherdev, a player with all the tricks, has yet to really live up to his potential at club or international level, but here he showed why so many coaches believe they can unlock his star quality. First he collected a pass from Vladimir Galuzin, swivelled into a shooting position and lifted a wrister beyond Henrik Karlsson. Then, assisted once again by Galuzin, Zherdev went through one-on-one and beat the goalie from close range.

Jokerit hit back in the second period, with two goals from Jesse Joensuu and a third from Niklas Hagman sandwiching Kaspars Daugavins’ marker as the teams reached the second intermission locked a 3-3.

But then Torpedo found another step up: Alexander Frolov and Alexei Sopin made it 5-3 midway through the final stanza and even though Peter Regin pulled one back there was no escape for the Finns. Vyacheslav Kulyomin completed the scoring with an empty net goal to give Torpedo the early initiative in this series.