(2) SKA 2
(8) Lokomotiv 3
Lokomotiv leads the series 3-2
Loko took a big step towards grabbing a place in the Conference Final with a battling win in St. Petersburg. Just two days after a heavy home defeat, Dave King’s team bounced back to edge ahead once again in a compelling series … and could now confirm its progress with a win on home ice on Friday evening.
The game turned in a spell of barely 10 minutes from the midway mark. SKA held a 1-0 lead thanks to a Kevin Dallman power play goal, but Lokomotiv turned around that deficit. Ilya Gorokhov muscled his way onto the slot to convert a pass from Sergei Konkov to tie it up, then Emil Garipov got a career first play-off goal, taking the puck from a face-off and advancing to score on Alexander Salak from a tight angle in the 39th minute.
The third period had barely begun when Yegor Averin stretched the lead to 3-1. Sergei Plotnikov put up a big screen on Salak, and Averin launched a wrist shot below the bar to put Loko firmly in charge.
SKA still had more than 19 minutes to recover the deficit, however, and piled the pressure onto Curtis Sanford’s goal. However, a combination of good goaltending and rash decision-making ensured that Patrick Thoresen’s short-handed effort in the 58th minute was the only marker.
And when Ilya Kovalchuk’s last second shot was blocked by Sanford, the star’s frustrations boiled over into a brawl with Jonas Holos which saw the SKA player handed a 2+5+20 penalty, adding to the Army Men’s woes.
(3) Lev 3
(4) Donbass 1
Lev leads the series 3-2
Bratislava’s Slavnaft Arena became a home away from home for Lev as the Prague team – notionally the host for tonight’s game – took at 3-1 verdict to move to within a single game of progress.
After two Donbass home games in the Slovak capital Lev opted to switch game five to this venue while its own arena in Prague was unavailable. The reduced travel benefitted both teams, but it was Lev that took the greatest advantage.
The acting home team took a stranglehold on the game in the first period. Michal Repik opened the scoring in the fifth minute, picking out the top corner, before Patrik Zackrisson was credited with the second goal after Jiri Novotny’s presence in the slot distracted goalie Mike Leighton.
That was Leighton’s last contribution of the evening before he was replaced by Jan Laco, and the Slovak stopper produced some important saves in his home country. Perhaps the best came in the 36th minute when he reacted smartly to block a Justin Azevedo one-timer and keep his team in the game.
Prior to that save Dmitry Kagarlitsky had pulled one back for Donbass. Sergei Varlamov’s juddering check on Jakub Nakladal gave his team possession and Kagarlitsky followed up with a wrist shot to the top corner.
Varlamov remained an influential figure in the final period, creating more than one opportunity to test Petri Vehanen in the Lev goal, while Laco had a quieter time of it at the other end.
But there was no way through for Donbass, and after Laco was called to the bench Lev got the clinching goal thanks to Zackrisson’s empty-netter with nine seconds left.