Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Both of Friday’s games in the West went to overtime. CSKA eventually prevailed at Torpedo to take a 3-0 lead in the series, despite allowing its first goal of this year’s playoffs. But the most compelling spectacle of the day was in Moscow, where Spartak went 0-3 down inside five minutes but recovered to win 5-4 in overtime.

Slepyshev gets overtime winner for CSKA

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod 1 CSKA Moscow 2 OT (1-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1)

CSKA leads the series 3-0

Torpedo prevented CSKA goalie Ilya Sorokin from setting a new shut-out record in Gagarin Cup playoff action. However, David Nemirovsky’s team could not find a way to build on its first goal of this series and lost out in overtime.

Photo: 06.03.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Playoffs. Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) - CSKA (Moscow)

In each of the two games in Moscow, the Army Men swiftly took control with a couple of early goals. In front of a sell-out crowd on home ice, Torpedo was determined not to suffer the same fate again. The team came out and looked to take the game to CSKA, creating several dangerous moments in front of Sorokin.

CSKA weathered that early storm, though, and got the opening goal in the ninth minute. Maxim Mamin’s previous playoff goal was the one that secured the Gagarin Cup for his team last season; here he produced a neat backhand finish after Nikita Nesterov intercepted a clearance on the blue and delivered a quick pass to catch the Torpedo defense out of position as it looked to charge up the ice in search of the next raid on Sorokin’s net.

Torpedo kept pressing and got the puck in the net in the 13th minute, only for Anton Shenfeld’s effort to be whistled off. A couple of seconds before his shot, the officials had halted play for an offside; no goal, CSKA still led 1-0. It wasn’t until the final moments of the period that Torpedo got its long-awaited – and deserved – goal. Andrei Belevich burst through and stuffed the puck home from close range amid a scramble in front of Sorokin’s net. The CSKA goalie’s streak was halted at 198:20, just under 27 minutes shy of Petri Vehanen’s playoff record.

The home team looked to build on that in the second period but, despite having the better of the play, was unable to add another goal. Indeed, it came closer to allowing one. Sergei Zborovsky handled a goalbound shot and, after a brief dust-up involving Klas Dahlback and Daniil Ilyin, Mikhail Grigorenko had a penalty shot that Andrei Tikhomirov saved.

In the third period, Torpedo again had chances. CSKA took three penalties in a row and along the way Ty Rattie fashioned a great opportunity for Jordan Schroeder to put the home team in front. However, the chance went begging, the penalties were killed, and the Army Men survived to see the game into overtime.

The extras began with an eighth power play of the game for Torpedo but once again the home team could not find a way through. And soon after Kirill Kaprizov emerged from the box, Anton Slepyshev fired the winner over Tikhomirov’s glove to win the game and put the defending champion one victory away from the next round.

Battling Spartak seals a wild comeback

Spartak Moscow 5 Dynamo Moscow 4 OT (2-3, 1-0, 1-1, 1-0)

Dynamo leads the series 2-1

Dynamo almost had this game won inside the first five minutes. Instead, Spartak clawed back a 0-3 deficit, fell behind once more and grabbed a late equalizer to force overtime. In the extras, the Red-and-Whites killed a penalty before going ahead for the first time in the 76th minute. The longest and most draining encounter of the playoffs went to Oleg Znarok’s team – and Spartak put itself back in contention in the series.

Photo: 06.03.20. KHL Championship 2019-2020. Playoffs. Spartak (Moscow) - Dynamo (Moscow)

The winner came when Maxim Tsyplakov brought play from his zone to the other before finding Mikhail Yunkov. Positioned to shoot, Yunkov paused and slipped the puck beyond the sprawling Mikhail Grigoryev for Mikhail Kotlyarevsky to shoot home. The 22-year-old has divided his time between KHL and VHL this season but picked an opportune moment to get his first playoff goal at this level.

The prospect of a Spartak win seemed remote at the beginning of the evening. The Blue-and-Whites made a blistering start to the game, scoring three goals in five minutes to leave Spartak reeling. Igor Polygalov opened the scoring in the first minute, exchanging passes with Daniil Tarasov before beating Julius Hudacek with the home defense nowhere to be seen. Moments later, a power play saw Vadim Shipachyov test Hudacek before Tarasov astutely slipped the puck back for Kirill Lyamin to unleash a howitzer past the goalie.

That was the end of the Slovak international’s evening and Nikita Bespalov made an early appearance on the crease. It wasn’t long before he, too, was groping behind him in search of the puck. This time Vyacheslav Kulyomin was the architect and Ivan Muranov fired home his first of the season. The 20-year-old has yet to score a regular season goal but got his first ever senior marker in last year’s playoffs.

Down 0-3 in the game, Spartak was in serious danger of going 0-3 down in the series as well. However, the home team had not been completely blown away. Even during that crazy start, it took a stick save from Ivan Bocharov to keep the host off the scoreboard and the vitally important response came quickly enough. Ilya Zubov provided it when he tucked away the rebound from his own shot after Bocharov indulged in a spot of juggling. And six seconds before the intermission Artyom Fyodorov found the top corner to make it 2-3 and throw the game right back into the balance.

That momentum seemed to favor the Red-and-Whites going into the second period, and in the 34th minute the home crowd got what it wanted. Maxim Tsyplakov lost his footing behind the Dynamo net but still got a pass out to Alexander Khokhlachyov for the 3-3 goal.

Maybe the euphoria was a bit too heady for some on the home team, though. Barely a minute later, Dynamo’s deadly top line restored the lead. Shipachyov and Dmitrij Jaskin combined, Michal Cajkovsky fired home to make it 4-3. And the visitor could see the end in sight when Vladislav Yefremov got the puck in Bespalov’s net midway through the third. However, that one was whistled off for goalie interference and Spartak’s hopes were still very much alive. A penalty on Yegor Zaitsev enabled Znarok to play 6-on-4, Patrik Hersley fired a warning shot against the post then got to the slot to redirect an Andrei Kuteikin effort for the tying goal. That was enough for overtime, and then came Kotlyarevsky.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Related clubs

Dynamo (Moscow) Dynamo (Moscow)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod) Torpedo (Nizhny Novgorod)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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