Dynamo leads the series 1-0
A local derby in the playoffs produced 125 penalty minutes. But if Spartak showed plenty of fight in its first encounter with Dynamo, the Blue-and-Whites produced the scoring to move to a convincing win.
In past seasons, Spartak’s principle aim has been to reach the playoffs. This season, with Oleg Znarok behind the bench, sights are set a little higher. Last year, the Red-and-Whites gave SKA a scare at this stage and now, with one of the most titled coaches in the KHL to guide them, there was real hope that 2020 could continue with a victory over local rival Dynamo.
However, Vladimir Krikunov’s team had the edge over Spartak in regular season and boasted the KHL’s leading scorers in the form of Vadim Shipachyov and Dmitrij Jaskin. And the latter made the early breakthrough in this game, opening the scoring in the third minute. Andre Petersson was forced off the puck as he moved into the Spartak zone, but the defense could not hold possession and Jaskin pounced on the broken play to fire past Julius Hudacek.
The home team thought it had doubled its lead when Semyon Pankratov beat his man down the left and got to the doorstep before forcing the puck under Hudacek. However, Znarok challenged the play, citing goalie interference. And the coach got it right: replays showed that Pankratov encroached onto the paint before scoring and the goal was chalked off.
Instead, it was late in the second that we saw more scoring. This time, Dynamo grabbed two more goals – both scored by Petersson – to end Hudacek’s evening and give the Blue-and-Whites a commanding lead. A 5-on-3 power play early in the third helped Michal Cajkovsky make it 4-0 and the outcome was already clear.
However, the remainder of the game was dominated by a string of clashes that took the penalty count beyond 100 minutes. The bad blood started right after the disallowed goal, when Petersson and Evgeny Kulik exchanged heated points of view at the Spartak bench. And in the third period, the simmering conflict between the times bubbled over. Shipachyov was the first to cool his heels, taking 2+10 for a high hit. The next flashpoint saw Dynamo’s Andrei Alexeyev take a brief dance with Artyom Fyodorov, while Anton Zlobin collected a misconduct call for his reaction. A minute later, Spartak lost the services of two players as Maxim Goncharov and Alexander Nikishin were ejected from the game. Goncharov was guilty of a high hit, Nikishin then started a fight with Igor Polygalov. The Dynamo man also took a 5-minute major and Jaskin had a minor for roughing.
Tempers still ran high when Pankratov and Denis Kokarev clashed a couple of minutes later and it was several minutes before both teams finally got back to full strength. There was still time for two more goals – Anatoly Nikontsev robbing Dynamo veteran Alexander Yeryomenko of a shut-out before Vladimir Bryukvin completed the scoring for the home team. And, just before the hooter, a busy night for the officials concluded with another misconduct penalty as Alexander Khokhlachyov shared one opinion too many.
CSKA leads the series 1-0
The defending champion made an assured start to its bid to retain the Gagarin Cup, blanking Torpedo to collect a 3-0 victory. For goalie Ilya Sorokin, 16 saves meant a 15th playoff shut-out, setting a new KHL record.
For Torpedo, head coach David Nemirovsky was clear that his team needed a fast start and needed to keep the puck moving to avoid getting steamrollered by the home offense. Unfortunately for him, the Army Men also set their alarms for this game and seized the initiative early on. Within eight minutes, CSKA led 2-0 and it was already difficult to see a way back for the visitor.
Mario Kempe had already spurned a glorious opening in front of Anders Lindbak, but the attack continued and Anton Slepyshev returned play to the Swede’s net with interest to open the scoring. Then Kempe found the net himself, a play that Lindbak will want to forget. The goalie seemed well placed to close the door beside the post, but the puck got away from him and allowed Kempe to swing around the back and score on the wraparound.
Torpedo refused to yield, but the desire to implement Nemirovsky’s game plan was not matched by an ability to wrest control of the action from CSKA. It was little surprise that the home team extended its lead early the second period, with Linden Vey making it 3-0.
Subsequently, CSKA could dictate play at will, while Torpedo saw Ty Rattie take a game misconduct late in the middle frame. He talked his way into trouble moments after a brilliant save to flick the puck of Torpedo’s goal line; elation at that success turned to frustration when he felt he was illegally halted on his advance towards Sorokin’s net and broke into anger that prompted the officials to send him to the locker room.
That playoff passion burned a little too brightly for Chay Genoway too in the third, with the defenseman taking a 10-minute misconduct tally as CSKA closed out the game with few alarms.