For the first time in 17 years, Dynamo Moscow misses out on a playoff place following a 4-3 loss to city rival Spartak. The Red-and-Whites proceed to face CSKA in post season, while Severstal claims eighth place after a shoot-out defeat at SKA.
The Western Conference playoff line-up is as follows: SKA vs Severstal, CSKA vs Spartak, Jokerit vs HC Sochi, Lokomotiv vs Torpedo.
There was everything to play for in this Moscow derby, with a playoff place at stake for both teams. Dynamo knew that victory was everything; Spartak could still progress with a defeat, depending on the result from SKA.
But the host was in no mood to jeopardize its first post-season campaign since 2011, and duly opened the scoring in the first period. Dynamo’s Ilya Nikulin was just returning from the penalty box when Alexander Dergachyov scored the vital goal.
Dynamo’s proud record of featuring in every KHL playoff was under threat, and the Blue-and-Whites responded with two quick goals early in the middle frame. Juuso Hietanen tied the scores on the power play, then Vladimir Bryukvin made it 2-1. Now it was Spartak that was out of the top eight, and Dynamo could hope for further action this season.
That hope took a hit when Lukas Radil made it 2-2 and was all but extinguished as Spartak moved into a 4-2 lead in the final session. Vyacheslav Leshchenko put the home team back in front, and a power play goal from Ben Maxwell made it a two-goal cushion. Nikulin pulled one back late in the game, but there was no reprieve for his team.
Away from the excitement in Moscow, Severstal knew that it might secure a playoff place regardless of its result at SKA – but also understood that it had to win to guarantee progress in any event.
As it happened, Spartak’s win ensured Severstal would take eighth place, but the Steelmen gave a competitive performance against a SKA team that welcomed back 10 of its Olympic champions. Igor Shestyorkin, Russia’s third goalie in PyeongChang, was his team’s hero here: he made 23 saves in the game, then stopped all five shoot-out attempts to secure the win.
At the other end, Nikita Gusev, star of Russia’s gold-medal game, failed to trouble Julius Hudacek in the Severstal net. After 65 minutes of scoreless play, Yegor Yakovlev produced the only successful attempt in the shoot-out. SKA gets the win, Severstal comes back to try again in the playoffs.
Dmitry Kvartalnov continues to struggle when he comes up against his former charges from CSKA. The Lokomotiv head coach suffered another loss to his previous club, although the game had little impact on the end-of-season standings.
Two goals apiece for Maxim Shalunov and Valery Nichushkin made the difference here after Andrei Loktionov and Alexander Popov traded early goals. Max Talbot also found the net for Loko, but this was CSKA’s day.
Evgeny Mozer was the game-winner for Torpedo as it warmed up for the playoffs with an overtime victory.
The first two periods of this game were scoreless, although Torpedo fired in 31 shots at Alexander Samonov in the visiting net. Mozer finally broke the deadlock in the 48th minute, despite claims that Torpedo had too many men on the ice at the time of the goal.
A goal from 19-year-old Daniels Berzins opened his KHL account and lifted Dinamo Riga from the foot of the league standings.
The Latvians had endured a tough season but finished on an optimistic note thanks to the teenage forward. Berzins snapped a 1-1 tie with a goal early in the third period, and that proved sufficient to win the game. Brandon McMillan’s empty-netter rubber-stamped the victory.
Earlier, Eeli Tolvanen had given Jokerit the lead late in the opening frame. Tolvanen thus finishes his first ever KHL regular season with 19+17=36 points, a league record for an 18-year-old. He also had call-ups to the World Juniors and the Olympics, with a playoff campaign to come. Lauris Darzins cancelled out that goal, though, as Dinamo rallied to overtake Ugra at the foot of the league table.
Slovan finished its season on a winning note, claiming a 4-2 verdict over Dinamo Minsk.
The game got off to a fast start, with Ryan Garbutt opening the scoring after 27 seconds only for Quinton Howden to tie it up in the third minute. Marek Viedensky soon restored Slovan’s lead and it remained 2-1 until the first intermission.
Colby Genoway’s power play goal was the only tally in the middle frame as Slovan moved to a 3-1 lead. Kristian Khenkel got one back for Dinamo in the third, but the Belarusians could not pull themselves level before the hooter and Marek Hecl scored into the empty net to seal Slovan’s win.