All four games in the Western playoffs finished as home wins, and all four series currently stand at 2-0 in favor of the seeded team. As the action goes on the road ahead of Saturday’s instalment, the pressure is firmly on Dinamo Minsk and Vityaz after they lost out 2-7 at Lokomotiv and SKA respectively. But Torpedo and Jokerit will feel somewhat unfortunate to be behind after three of the four games played so far in Moscow went to overtime.
(SKA leads the series 2-0)
SKA proved far too strong for Vityaz as the Army Men celebrated Defenders of the Fatherland day with an emphatic playoff victory.
Evgeny Dadonov contributed two points once again, taking his post-season tally to two goals and two assist from two games. There were also two goals from Evgeny Ketov one goal and two assists for Patrik Hersley and a pair of assists from Anton Belov, who also scored in game one.
SKA’s offense was rampant from the start, eventually firing in 40 shots on the Vityaz net. Igor Saprykin faced 17 of those efforts in the first period, allowing two goals as Ketov and Dadonov put the home team in a comfortable position. That was enough to persuade Valery Belov to bring Harri Sateri back onto the ice at the first intermission, but with SKA outshooting Vityaz by 13-4, the Finn could do little to help his team. Ketov made it 3-0, Pavel Datsyuk got his stick on to Hersley’s shot to add a fourth and Jarno Koskiranta turned in a Belov effort for 5-0. Artyom Shvets-Rogovoi pulled one goal back for Vityaz before the intermission, but the damage was done.
Hersley added a goal to his pair of assists in the 47th minute and, after Jakub Jerabek got a second for Vityaz, Ilya Kovalchuk rounded off the scoring with a power play goal off a Belov feed. With its offense in such irresistible form, it’s hard to see how Vityaz can find a way back into this series, but the arrival of playoff hockey in Podolsk on Saturday will at least give Belov’s team a chance to regroup in front of its own supporters.
(Lokomotiv leads the series 2-0)
Two short-handed goals from Andrei Loktionov put the seal on a crushing victory as Lokomotiv took up a commanding position before this series moves to Belarus.
He struck twice at the start of the third period, capitalizing on the failures of the Dinamo power play to pile on the misery for a Belarusian team that has never won a playoff series in the KHL era. But Loktionov’s contribution merely put the garnish on a powerful performance from Lokomotiv, with the home team effectively settling this game in the second period.
Loko already had the lead thanks to Staffan Kronwall’s first-period power play goal, but Dinamo was causing problems. Andrei Stepanov hit the crossbar, and Matt Ellison missed a good chance to tie the scores before Loktionov fed Artyom Ilyenko for a lovely backhand finish to make it 2-0. After that, the home team took control. Jakub Nakladal unleashed a thunderbolt to make it 3-0 on the power play, Yegor Averin added a fourth and chase Ben Scrivens from the away net, then Nikita Komarov’s wild hit on Ilyenko set up another power play and saw Dmitry Lugin add a fifth.
Then came Loktionov’s double. First, Rushan Rafikov’s reverse pass sent him off to the races and Kevin Lalande was slow to react. Then, barely two minutes later, Dinamo earned another power play, lost out at the first face off and watched on as Alexander Kadeikin released Loktionov for another successful duel with Lalande.
Dinamo got a consolation goal from the same power play through Dmitry Korobov, and Matt Ellison added a second for the visitor. But Craig Woodcroft and his team will need to find some answers on home ice if they are to be competitive in the rest of this series.
(Dynamo leads the series 2-0)
For the second game in a row, it took overtime to separate these two teams – but Thursday’s encounter was very different from Tuesday. After taking 93 minutes to come up with a goal in game one, Dynamo scored twice in the first period here and seemed to have got its offense firing once again.
But Torpedo dug in, and stifled the host as the game went on, hauling the game back to 2-2 and setting up another spell of extras.
Unlike Tuesday, when overtime became a battle of endurance and attrition, it took just two minutes to settle the outcome here. Torpedo made the brighter start, but succumbed to Dynamo’s first counter attack. Andrei Kuteikin handed his team the win and gives the Blue-and-Whites a big advantage to take to Nizhny Novgorod on Saturday. It was an unlikely goal: Kuteikin banged in a shot from center ice and caught Mikhail Biryukov unawares to win the game.
Earlier, the home team blazed into action in the early stages of Thursday’s game, and as a hard-pressed Torpedo ran into penalty trouble, Dynamo took advantage. A 5-on-3 power play enabled Artyom Fyodorov to open the scoring in the 14th minute, converting the rebound from a Dmitry Vishnevsky shot. Another power play soon followed, and Juuso Hietanen doubled the lead with something of a Dynamo trademark. Lukas Kaspar’s pass found his colleague well placed to shoot, and that was 2-0.
For Torpedo, the stats were looking grim. Dynamo had won all 20 games in which it held a 2-0 lead this season, and the visitor had failed to score on Alexander Yeryomenko in 113 minutes and counting since the series began. But the start of the middle stanza saw Peteris Skudra’s team whip up a whirlwind around the home net. Dynamo, desperate to change its personnel, called a time-out on 21:49, but the rest did little good. Five seconds later, Torpedo made it 1-2 when Evgeny Mozer forced home Artyom Alyayev’s shot.
It wasn’t enough to unsettle the host, though, and the Muscovites continued to have the better of the game for much of the second period. However, just as in the opening game, goals proved hard to come by at either end. Not even a 5-on-3 advantage for Torpedo could yield any change in the scoreline and it remained a one-goal game going into the third.
Torpedo knew that the final stanza of this game could be a pivotal moment in the series. Fail to score, and heading to Nizhny Novgorod with two defeats to recover would be a daunting task. Strike back and give Dynamo something to think about, and the contest would be very much alive. The visitor raised its game on offense, outshooting the home team for the first time in the series. Enterprise got its reward in the 52nd minute when Sam Lofquist, recalled in place of Bobby Butler, saw his shot deflected into the net by Alexander Frolov to tie the game.
(CSKA leads the series 2-0)
CSKA will be wondering why it needed overtime to get the better of Jokerit after dominating the second game of this series.
The Army Men generated far more offense in the first 60 minutes, but gave up a power play goal to Tommi Huhtala in the third period and allowed Jokerit to tie the game with its only shot on goal in the final stanza.
The visitor was more adventurous in overtime, knowing that merely inviting pressure could only end in eventual defeat, but despite a lively start to the extras Jokerit struggled to get into CSKA territory. And, even if the home team was not always able to generate clear shooting opportunities, the pressure eventually told.
Sergei Andronov was the man in the right place at the right time to force home the game-winner on 71:15. Igor Ozhiganov fired in a shot from the blue line, and Vladimir Zharkov battled for the rebound on the slot. The puck bounced off a Jokerit defenseman and dropped kindly for Andronov, who stuffed it into the net to win the game and put CSKA in control of this series ahead of Saturday’s game in Helsinki.
Both teams finished the previous game in a fired-up mood after a series of skirmishes in the dying seconds of CSKA’s 4-2 victory. Once the dust – and disciplinary action – had settled, it was the home team that seemed to be less affected by sideshow from game one. CSKA had the better of the opening session without managed to convert a 14-5 shot count into a tangible advantage. But the home team got the lead it deserved early in the second, thanks to a superb pass from Valery Nichushkin. He collected the puck on his own blue line, and turned away from the defenseman who was trying to pressure him. A combination of vision and precision saw Nichushkin fire a diagonal pass to pick out Maxim Mamin on the other blue line, and Mamin got in front of Rasmus Rissanen before beating Ryan Zapolski in the visitor’s net.
That should have been enough. CSKA’s defense was limiting Jokerit to half chances and the host seemed by far the more likely team to score again. But a penalty on Artyom Sergeyev early in the third period halted that momentum and brought Jokerit level. Charles Genoway was the architect, advancing from the blue line, drawing Vladimir Zharkov out of position and slipping the puck back to Huhtala. The Finn needed no second invitation, slapping home a one-timer from the face-off spot to make it 1-1.