There were just two games on the final day of action before the break for the Karjala Cup – and both provided a fillip for two teams in need of a win.
After three straight losses, Jokerit had lost ground on the Western Conference leaders and was in danger of being caught by Lokomotiv. However, a trip to struggling Severstal, a team languishing six points outside the playoff zone after a run of just one win in eight, was just what the Finns needed to go to the international break on a high note.
There was little to choose between the teams in the early stages, but once Viktor Loov opened the scoring during a passage of 4-on-4 play, Severstal found itself struggling to get back into the game. Two goals in the latter half of the second period gave the visitor complete control, with Mika Niemi adding the second just past the half-hour mark and Max Warn getting his first since joining the Helsinki team last month.
Goaltender Jhonas Enroth produced a game-winning performance as Dinamo made it two wins out of three. The Western Conference struggler bounced back from Sunday’s 2-3 loss at home to Barys and shows signs of shrugging off its recent long winless run.
Enroth was the key man beside the Black Sea. The Swede turned away 40 shots to frustrate the home offense. His was at his most impressive in the second period, making 16 stops, and held firm in the third as Sochi tried to increase the pressure and Dinamo’s offense was limited to a miserly 49 seconds on the attack.
Sochi did get past the goalie early in the game; Sergei Shmelyov got a short-handed goal in the eighth minute to put the home team ahead. The Minsk PP quickly got more threatening, however. Evgeny Kovyrshin potted a first-period equalizer on the power play, then Teemu Pulkkinen grabbed the winner early in the second during a spell of 4-on-3 action. Dinamo remains bottom of the Western Conference, but is now just one point behind Severstal.