Dynamo Moscow won the Opening Cup for the third time, shooting down Traktor Chelyabinsk 5-1 with a powerful display of attacking hockey at Luzhniki. The contrast with the Blue-and-Whites’ last game – a 2-5 reverse against Spartak – was striking: from the first face-off Dynamo played a pacy attacking game, worlds away from its usual cagey approach, and kept the pressure on Traktor from first to last. Even the shock of conceding first couldn’t disrupt the defending champion’s progress on the night.
Garnett stands alone
Dynamo blazed into action in the opening stages, buoyed by a powerplay after just 27 seconds, and laid siege to Michael Garnett’s goal. In the end the shot tally was 18-3 in the host’s favor, and when Garnett was finally found wanting in the final moments of the session Konstantin Glazachev’s shot bounced safely off the post and Dmitry Vishnevsky could not force it into the empty net from close range. But for all that pressure, it was Traktor which held the lead at the first interval. The goal came on 7:40 when Yegor Dugin found the top corner from Lauris Darzins’ pass from behind.
Dynamo strikes back
The home pressure continued into the second session, and finally Garnett’s resistance was broken just after halfway. Returning hero Leo Komarov was the architect, thumping a shot into the goalie’s chest before collecting the loose puck and picking out Maxim Pestushko in front of an empty net. Within 90 seconds Dynamo had the lead, and Garnett’s luck was well and truly out. Smart positioning forced Sergei Soin’s wrist shot against the post, but the rebound dropped straight onto Yury Babenko’s stick and the captain reacted immediately to fire into the open goal.
Capitalizing on errors
The defending champion soon extended its lead in the third period, with Pestushko and Komarov combining once again. This time it was the Finn who got the goal, exploiting a positional error from young defenseman Mikhail Flyagin to convert Pestushko’s diagonal pass. And there was more defensive woe moments later as Evgeny Kuznetsov’s misplaced pass enabled Babenko to set up Soin for number four. Alexei Tsvetkov, whose overtime goal settled the final series back in April, completed the scoring in the dying seconds.
Dynamo could revel in the satisfaction of a well-executed game-plan and yet another trophy, but Traktor was left to contemplate what had gone wrong. The summer departure of D-men Deron Quint and Vyacheslav Belov seemed to disrupt the previously miserly defense of Valery Belousov’s team, and while Garnett remains impressive in goal he was simply overwhelmed on the night.