Western Conference semi-finals, Day 5
(1) SKA St. Petersburg 1
(4) Atlant Moscow Region 3
SKA leads the series 3-2
For most of the 11,700 fans who came to watch SKA take on Atlant, tonight was due to be the night that the Petersburg team became the first Conference finalist - but the visitors had other ideas.
Knowing that it was win or bust, a situation familiar to Atlant from last season’s play-off against SKA, the Moscow Region side produced perhaps the most resilient post-season performance of 2012 to win 3-1 and keep the series alive. And it was goaltender Konstantin Barulin who was the key man, with 41 saves on the night as his team launched a successful smash-n-grab raid on the Northern Capital.
Only Patrick Thoresen could find a way past the goalie, while at the other end Atlant mustered just 13 shots - but Evgeny Nurislamov, Ilya Kablukov and Branko Radivojevic ensured that three of them counted to bring the series back to Mytishchi on Friday with Atlant trailing 3-2.
Dynamo closing in
(2) Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 2
(3) Dynamo Moscow 4
Dynamo leads the series 3-2
Dynamo recovered from the worst possible start to take the box seat in its series with Torpedo. With just 20 seconds gone Konstantin Gorovikov was sin-binned, and on 44 seconds Alexei Ugarov scored for Torpedo to put his former club in arrears.
But this series has been too close to call from game one, and Dynamo soon tied it up thanks to Jakub Klepis before a second-period blitz secured a vital win which inches the Moscow side 3-2 in front before the action returns to the capital on Friday.
January signing Mikhail Anisin scored again, reinforcing his reputation as one of the stars of the play-offs, then Marek Kvapil made it 3-1 within 90 seconds before Ilya Gorokhov opened up a three-goal lead on a powerplay just before siren.
Evgeny Varlamov pulled one back for Torpedo, but Dynamo claimed a 4-2 verdict and will hope to draw a big crowd to the Megasport Arena when it could wrap up the series.