SKA secures play-off progress. Western quarterfinals, Day 4

12 March 2014, 02:24

(7) CSKA 4
(2) SKA 5 (1 OT)
SKA wins the series 4-0

A thrilling finale saw SKA sweep CSKA out of the play-offs with a second successive overtime win. But after yesterday’s low-scoring encounter, Tuesday’s game was a rollicking clash which saw the Petersburg team claw back a 2-4 deficit and survive a penalty shot in the last 10 minutes before snatching victory thanks to Alexei Ponikarovsky’s first play-off goal.

Ponikarovsky dived in to force home the puck after an Ilya Kovalchuk shot was blocked on the post by Jeff Glass, and the video ref gave the thumbs-up to make SKA the first team to reach the Conference semi-finals.

But for long periods it seemed that CSKA would take the series back up north to St. Petersburg. Early on goals for Nikita Zaitsev and Yakov Rylov opened up a 2-0 lead, and when that was wiped out by Patrick Thoresen and Tony Martensson. Zaitsev and Prokhorkin reinstated that advantage.

Then the action really heated up. First Zaitsev was expelled from the game for boarding, and during the power play Kovalchuk got his first post-season goal to bring it back to 3-4. Then SKA goalie Alexander Salak tripped Jan Mursak on the breakaway before redeeming himself by saving the penalty shot when a fifth CSKA goal would surely have won the game. Finally, with just 78 seconds left until the siren, yesterday’s game winner Roman Cervenka popped up with another vital goal. The Czech forward tucked away the puck after a Kevin Dallman shot had rebounded back off the boards, taking the game into overtime and denying CSKA the chance to extend the series.


(8) Lokomotiv 3
(1) Dynamo Moscow 2 (2 OT)
Series tied at 2-2

Mikelis Redlihs got his second goal of the play-offs to complete Lokomotiv’s recovery on the night and tie the series after four meetings. For the second time in four games these teams went to overtime, underlining how little there is to choose between them despite their disparate seedings.

Redlihs struck in the 81st minute, snapping a 2-2 tie as won the battle on the slot and forced the puck home after Ilya Gorokhov’s shot from the point was blocked by Alexander Yeryomenko. Dynamo’s goalie was unhappy with the play around his net, but the officials had no hesitation in awarding the game-winner to the Latvian forward.

Loko also had their greivances over Dynamo’s first goal, poked home from close range by Maxim Pestushko amid claims that Leo Komarov had kicked the puck over the line. That effort was awarded by the video official, but was swiftly cancelled out by a Geoff Platt goal. Dynamo took the lead once again in the 30th minute through Marek Kvapil, and Loko had to spend the third period desperately trying to force a way through the Blue-and-White defense. The door finally opened in the 59th minute when Dynamo succumbed to a Staffan Kronwall power play goal with barely 90 seconds left to play.

The teams return to Moscow on Thursday before the first potentially decisive encounter back in Yaroslavl on Saturday.

(6) Medvescak 2
(3) Lev 3
Lev wins the series 4-0

Lev completed a convincing sweep of Medvescak to claim its first ever play-off success in some style. A combination of clinical finishing and resolute PK ultimately made the difference in Zagreb, with the visitor taking control early on and never relinquishing that grip.

The opening goal went to Jakub Matai in the 6th minute, tapping in a neat backhand pass from Lukas Cingel. Within 10 minutes it was 2-0, Mikko Maenpaa driving the puck home from distance on the power play to pile up the pressure on Medvescak. Not even an extended 5v3 power play for the Croats could disrupt Lev’s progress, and the same resolute penalty kill was seen again in the scoreless middle session after Niko Kapanen took a 5+20 for boarding.

Medvescak captain Alan Letang gave the home team hope early in the third, but it took less than 90 seconds for David Ullstrom to reinstate that two-goal cushion with his second goal in successive games. Matt Ellison, Medvescak’s leading play-off scorer, pulled one back with four minutes to go but Lev held on to advance to the next stage.

Lev’s victory represents a total contrast with this time last year. Twelve months ago the Czech team was swept by CSKA; tonight the Moscow team is out of the competition while the Lions roar on.


(5) Dinamo Riga 1
(4) Donbass 4
Donbass leads the series 3-1

Donbass is on the brink of victory in its first ever play-off series after opening up a 3-1 lead over Dinamo Riga.

After Monday’s heavy defeat Donbass wasted little time in imposing itself on game four of the series. Teemu Laine opened the scoring in the fourth minute, claiming his fifth of the play-offs off a Tuomas Kiiskinen pass.

But the key moment came late in the second when Evgeny Dadonov’s surge on the right set up a simple finish for Maxim Yakutsenya to double the advantage and leave Dinamo with too much to do.

Sergei Varlamov extended the lead in the third, and although Gints Meija pulled one back for the Latvians the last word went to Kiiskinen with an empty netter six seconds from the end.

The teams return to Donetsk on Thursday with Donbass hoping that home advantage will ease its passage into the next round.


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