Vehanen denies Loko, puts Lev in control. Western final, Game 2

5 April 2014, 00:47

(3) Lev 2
(8) Lokomotiv 1
Lev leads the series 2-0

Lev’s Petri Vehanen produced another star show between the piping to lead his team to a slender 2-1 verdict in game two against Loko. The Finn’s star turn followed his 32-save shut-out in game one and did much to give the Czech team a commanding 2-0 advantage as the series switches to Yaroslavl on Sunday. Tonight he finally conceded a goal, but made 33 saves to secure the victory.

Much of Vehanen’s best work came in the first period: with the scoresheet still blank he made a big stop to deny Emil Galimov in a one-on-one. Then late in the opening session he produced a still better save to preserve Lev’s lead, reacting smartly to get a pad on Geoff Platt’s close range shot.

Indeed the series was already almost 110 minutes old before the Finnish goalie was finally beaten Yegor Averin ended Loko’s drought, tucking away his fourth post-season marker from close range following Sergei Plotnikov’s pass. It also made this the first time both teams had scored, after their three previous encounters this season had ended with a shut-out victory for one or the other.

By that time, though, Loko was already chasing the game. As in the series opener, Lev took the lead on a first-period power play. Petr Vrana has been more effective as a finisher than a creator in this year’s play-offs, but his precise pass picked out Nathan Oystrick for a one-timer from the right-hand face-off spot which left Curtis Sanford with no chance.

The second goal came late in the middle session, with Patrik Zackrisson collecting the rebound from Jiri Sekac’s shot and slotting the puck home on the backhand.

But the third period saw Loko hit back to reduce the deficit, and with barely three minutes to play Vehanen was left with an anxious wait for a video verdict after Janis Sprukts was blocked in the slot and Mikelis Redlihs fired a shot into a flailing mass of limbs on the crease. The goalie ended up retrieving his helmet from the back of the net, but no camera angle could show the puck crossing the line.

Not for the first time in an occasionally fractious evening that incident prompted tempers to fray among both sets of players, but once the dust settled Loko found it was out of time. Lev, and Vehanen in particular, had done enough.

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