(1) Dynamo Moscow 1
(8) Lokomotiv 5
Lokomotiv wins the series 4-3
Lokomotiv pulled off a huge shock in these play-offs, defeating defending champion Dynamo Moscow in the first round.
A 5-1 win in game seven in Moscow settled the series in Loko’s favour and inflicted a first post-season defeat on Dynamo since 2011.
The Blue-and-Whites paid the price for a desperately slow start against a Lokomotiv team which was fired up after a 6-0 win on Saturday to force tonight’s grand decider. The home team had failed to muster a single shot on goal by the time Loko had opened up a 2-0 lead.
Alexander Chernikov, a revelation in this series after a modest regular season, opened the scoring on 11:09, getting to the rebound from his own shot to force the puck into the net. And within 90 seconds Geoff Platt made it 2-0, scoring on Alexander Yeryomenko from a tight angle and leaving the keeper questioning where it all went wrong for him over the last couple of games in this series.
But while Yeryomenko, rated play-off MVP for the past two campaigns, has looked off color in this series, the roots of Lokomotiv’s success lie in solid defense. For all Dynamo rolled into the play-offs as regular season champion, its attack was effectively blunted, and just two goals in the last three games highlighted the effectiveness of Loko’s back line.
Dynamo’s offense continued to misfire: a solitary strike from Leo Komarov in the second gave the home crowd hope – and a series of skirmishes in the closing stages of the middle period kept the penalty boxes full and the crowd in full cry.
But it wasn’t long into the final session that Sergei Konkov extinguished that optimism. The former Dynamo man made it 3-1 within a minute of the restart and, with Komarov sitting out a 2+10 penalty, got his fourth in two games in a one-on-one with Yeryomenko four minutes from the end.
There was still time for Yegor Averin to complete Dynamo’s misery with an empty net goal as Lokomotiv blew the race for the Western Conference wide open and maintained Dave King’s impressive record behind the bench since arriving in Yaroslavl in mid-February. King has won eight of his 11 games so far, first leading Loko to eighth place and now setting up a Conference semi-final tie.
Loko’s only cloud from the evening was the injury sustained by goalscorer Chernikov in the first period after an accidental full-force collision with team-mate Emil Garipov.
The result also guarantees that the Western Conference final will feature a non-Russian team for the first time. Lokomotiv goes on to face SKA in the next round, while the other tie pits Lev Prague against Donbass Donetsk.
(4) Donbass 3
(5) Dinamo Riga 1
Donbass wins the series 4-3
Despite being forced to move its final home game of the series to Bratislava, Donbass picked up a decisive win to progress in its first ever KHL play-off campaign.
The Ukrainian team, unable to play in its native Donetsk due to the uncertain political situation, took an early stranglehold on game seven of this series with two early goals.
Evgeny Dadonov got things started on four minutes, tucking away the rebound from Ruslan Fedotenko’s shot to convert the first power play of the evening. It then took barely two minutes for Teemu Laine, Donbass’ leading scoring in the play-offs, to double the advantage with a powerful one-timer off Clay Wilson’s pass.
Gints Meija reduced the deficit late in the first period, roofing a shot from the right-hand circle to the delight of the large contingent of traveling Latvian fans, but that was as close as Dinamo got.
A scoreless second stanza was followed by Dadonov’s second of the game, sweeping home from close range off an unselfish pass from Maxim Yakutsenya, to reassert Donbass’ control.
Although Dinamo pushed hard for a way back into contention, outshooting Donbass in the closing stages, Jan Laco was up to the challenge and Donbass held on with something to spare to set up a semi-final meeting with Lev.