Lev draws first blood. Western Final, Game 1

3 April 2014, 00:52

(3) Lev 3
(8) Lokomotiv 0
Lev leads the series 1-0

Two goals in the space of the 15th minute proved set Lev on the way to victory in the opening game of the Western Conference final against Lokomotiv.

There had been little to choose between the teams up to then, with Loko perhaps having the slight edge in terms of quality chances, but once Ilya Gorokhov was sin-binned Lev was quick to take advantage. The power play was converted within 45 seconds thanks to Ondrej Nemec. He fired home from the blue line after Loko was turned over on its own counter and struggled to get men back down the ice to defend Lev’s rapid response.

It didn’t take long for Lev to increase its lead. Jakub Klepis beat the unsighted Curtis Sanford from the blue line after exchanging passes with Martin Sevc. The goal came in no small part from the huge screen thrown up on Sanford by Lukas Cingel.

The second session saw Lev run into penalty trouble, but it still took Loko time to assert itself on the game after the shock of yielding those quick goals. The visitors steadily stepped up their game, but still struggled to carve out clear-cut chances to test Petri Vehanen in the Prague goal. Geoff Platt came close to beating the Finn midway through the second session, and Gorokhov fired over from close range in the last minute of the period but despite outshooting the Czechs 12-4 there was still no way through.

Vehanen’s biggest moment was still to come early in the third, stopping Sergei Konkov on a clean breakaway, but that proved to be as close as Lokomotiv could get to finding a way back into the game. A 5+20 penalty call against Ilya Lyubushkin following his high check on Cingel did not result in further goals for Lev but it bit deeply into the remaining time for Loko to claw back that deficit.

Lokomotiv had one more power play, but Vehanen proved equal to everything that was thrown at him on his way to a 32-save shut-out. Then, once back to full strength, Lev ended all doubt about the outcome with the kind of goal that might haunt defensemen. As Emil Galimov dithered on the puck, Niko Kapanen darted in to steal possession and score on Sanford at the second attempt and give Lev the ideal start to the series.

For Lokomotiv, though, defeat in game one of a series is no cause for great alarm: the Yaroslavl team lost its openers against both Dynamo and SKA but recovered on both occasions to win through.


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