(CSKA leads the series 1-0)
This game had much in common with the SKA – Lokomotiv game. It pitted two teams that had enjoyed a tighter tussle than last season’s sweep might suggest, and it ended in a comfortable home victory for last season’s victor.
And, as in Petersburg, the game began with an early goal. There were just over two minutes played when Greg Scott collected the puck after Geoff Platt won a faceoff, and he immediately fired past Ryan Zapolski to open the scoring. Jokerit was left chasing the game, and struggling to make a mark on CSKA: in the first period, the Finns mustered just two shots at Ilya Sorokin’s net. The visitor fell further behind a minute before the intermission when Valery Nichushkin came steaming down the left wing and whipped a dangerous pass towards Mikhail Grigorenko at the back door. The pass never reached its intended target; a Jokerit skate deflected it into the net.
After struggling for 20 minutes, Jokerit managed to raise its game for the middle frame. Chances were limited at both ends, but the Finns managed to get a toehold in the game, even if they could not make an impression on the scoreboard. The relief, though, was temporary. Three minutes into the final stanza, Sergei Andronov made it 3-0. Jokerit’s defense may be unhappy about the amount of time and space Ivan Telegin enjoyed in the corner before picking out a pass for the unmarked Andronov in the deep slot. The defense was concentrated in front of the net, but could not deploy a solid block; CSKA extended its lead.
With CSKA in buoyant mood, a 5-on-3 power play was the last thing Jokerit wanted to face. And, perhaps inevitably, the Army Men took advantage late on to make it 4-0. Kirill Kaprizov fed Sergei Shumakov between the hash marks, and the forward had no difficulty firing home his team’s final goal of the night. A hugely encouraging start for CSKA, which has now conceded just one goal in five playoff games and restricted Jokerit to 18 shots on the night. For the visitor, like Spartak in the previous round, the urgent question is how to build offense against a team that seems almost impregnable at the back.