SKA seemed to be in trouble after a series of poor results either side of the New Year, but Wednesday’s 6-3 home win over Dynamo Moscow has transformed the mood around the Petersburg club.
Following Monday’s win over Eastern Conference leader Ak Bars, it makes it two out of two against some of the top contenders for Gagarin Cup glory and injects new belief into SKA’s bid for a debut honor.
Although the triumph was perhaps a little closer than the scoreline suggested, it marked a welcome return to scoring form for SKA, and Roman Cervenka in particular. He scored twice, as did Tony Martensson, while Vadim Shipachyov and Ilya Kovalchuk completed the accounts for the home team.
Dynamo recovered from 1-5 to 3-5 in the final session thanks to goals from Leo Komarov and Alexei Tsvetkov, but always had too much to do after a disappointing second stanza. After two Conference Final defeats to the Moscow team, SKA now has two convincing regular season wins over its old rival – might it be third time lucky in post season?
The Kazan team returned to the top of the Eastern Conference with Wednesday’s win, but didn’t have it all its own way in Cherepovets. Evgeny Kovyrshin put the hosts ahead early in the second period, only for Mikhail Varnakov to tie it up in the 26th minute. Then Janne Pesonen’s 55th-minute goal secured the points, and the post-season spot, for Ak Bars.
He made two saves from the three shots he faced – with shoot-out specialist Ilya Proskuryakov remaining on the bench this time – as Alexander Radulov settled a game which had tied at 2-2 in regulation.
But much of the evening’s action highlighted how far CSKA is from achieving its ambitions. While Sibir is a solid opponent, it hardly represents the most daunting challenge in the league, but was still able to lead thanks to Dmitry Monya’s second-period goal. It was also notably that Monya and fellow Sibir scorer Dmitry Kugryshev were both former Army Men. In the end Alexei Morozov forced the tie and spared the team’s blushes, but January’s transfer activities need to deliver fast if CSKA is to translate spending into play-off success.
A strong second period at home to Admiral saw Lev tighten its grip on third place in the West. Unanswered goals from David Ullstrom and Michal Repik broke a 1-1 tie and paved the way for a comfortable 4-1 victory.
Lokomotiv’s hopes of holding on to eighth took a knock in a 4-1 defeat at home to Torpedo. Maxim Potapov scored the first and last goals of the game, Wojtek Wolski and Vladimir Denisov got the others for Torpedo.
Libor Hudacek got the decider for Slovan in a 3-2 home win over Amur. The teams traded four goals in the second period before Hudacek struck in the 48th minute.