Western Conference final, Game 4
(3) Dynamo Moscow 6
(1)SKA St. Petersburg 1
Dynamo wins the series 4-0
Dynamo Moscow stormed into the Gagarin Cup final with a resounding 6-1 win over SKA, completing a 4-0 sweep in the series and claiming the title of "best in the west". Not only was the overall series outcome something of a surprise, considering how SKA had dominated the Western Conference in the regular season, but the ease with which Dynamo progressed left the opposition shell-shocked.
Not for the first time in these play-offs, Mikhail Anisin was Dynamo’s key player, picking up an impressive hat-trick. The pick of his treble was his second (the team’s fifth), when he zig-zagged across SKA’s zone before squeezing a shot through Ilya Ezhov’s legs. Anisin also claimed the game-winning second, on Jakub Stepanek as Dynamo opened up a 3-0 first period lead.
Remarkably the Moscow side also got two shorthanded goals as SKA was put to the sword. Leo Komarov was the architect of both, first bursting forward to make it 3-0 with a solo run which ended with the hapless Stepanek letting the puck squeeze through him. Then, early in the second session, he embarked on a similar charge, and while Ezhov blocked Komarov’s initial shot, Konstantin Gorovikov was on hand to put away the rebound.
SKA did eventually get on the scoresheet on 39:40 after a long 5-on-3 powerplay. Dmitry Kalinin scored off a rebound after Vladimir Tarasenko hit the piping, but the visitors had been in trouble since Denis Mosalyov’s opening goal on 5:04, and there was no way back in a third period which was played in a carnival atmosphere at Luzhniki.
Tonight’s result means Dynamo - Russia’s oldest club - progresses to the Gagarin Cup final for the first time in KHL history and gives head coach Oleg Znarok a chance to go one better than he managed with HC MVD in 2010. The Blue-and-Whites lost just two games in three rounds - both in overtime against Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod - and saw Anisin become the leading post-season goal scorer with 13.
By contrast, SKA continues to frustrate its fans. For the second season running the Petersburg side has fallen at the penultimate hurdle, with a star-studded roster seemingly struggling to adapt to the unique pressures of knock-out hockey.
The Gagarin Cup final starts on April 13 - but before that Avangard Omsk and Traktor Chelyabinsk have to resolve their battle for the right to take on Dynamo. Those two lock horns again on Wednesday, with Avangard leading the series 2-1.