Dynamo wins the series 4-2
Dmitrij Jaskin, Dynamo’s leading scorer in the regular season, got the all-important goal to hand the Blue-and-Whites an overtime winner at Spartak. Thursday’s victory wraps up this first-round series in six games and completes the line-up for the KHL Conference semi-finals.
However, when the puck hit the net in the 64th minute, it was greeted by virtual silence in an empty arena. This decisive game had to be played behind closed doors amid increasing public health concerns due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
A potentially decisive playoff game between two big local rivals should have been a raucous affair. Instead, at a time when there’s more than just hockey at stake, this match-up between Spartak and Dynamo took place in an otherworldly atmosphere. Fans had to content themselves with TV coverage or internet streams, the Park of Legends arena was deserted save for the two teams, the officials, assorted arena staff and a few journalists. The seats were empty, the shouts of the players echoed around the venue.
Meanwhile, with the venue set for game day, the big screen flashed up messages urging the absent fans to get behind their team: ‘Gromche, Spartak!’ (Louder, Spartak) flashed around the digital hoardings, despite the fact that there was nobody there to pump up the volume. Unfortunately, it’s likely to be something to get used to. In Finland, Jokerit has already confirmed that its home games against SKA in the second round of the playoffs will go ahead without spectators due to regulations introduced by the Finnish authorities.
Before the game, Dynamo head coach Vladimir Krikunov dismissed rumors that forward Maxim Afinogenov had been hit by the virus. He confirmed that although the veteran was running a temperature and would miss Thursday’s game, there was no evidence of any coronavirus infection. Vyacheslav Kulyomin took Afinogenov’s place in the line-up. Spartak also made changes, with Maxim Goncharov and Denis Kokarev replacing Tobias Viklund and Ansel Galimov.
The lack of atmosphere did not distract Dynamo’s Vladimir Bryukvin. He opened the scoring here in the seventh minute, collecting the rebound from Dmitry Ogurtsov’s point shot. With his back to the net, and despite Patrik Hersley breathing down his neck, the 25-year-old spun away from his marker to fire a shot past Julius Hudacek.
Spartak also had its chances, the best of which coming when Kaspars Daugavins broke down the left and picked out the unmarked Artyom Fyodorov at the back door. However, his shot was too close to Alexander Yeryomenko, who kept Dynamo’s lead intact until the first intermission.
In the second period, the home team picked up the pace and deservedly tied the scores in the 34th minute. Alexander Khokhlachyov went around the back and popped up a feed for Robin Hanzl out in front to despatch a one-timer beyond Yeryomenko and make it 1-1. And in the last minute of the session, the Red-and-Whites moved ahead through Khokhlachyov. The forward stepped off the bench to collect a pass from Dmitry Vishnevsky and unleash a wrister from the left-hand circle that zinged through traffic and into the net.
Perhaps surprisingly for a local derby, neither side took a penalty in the first two periods. It wasn’t until the 46th minute that Fyodor Malykhin incurred the wrath of the officials and sat for two minutes. And the first power play of the evening brought a tying goal for Dynamo. Andre Petersson saw his first attempt blocked but he was in the right place to collect a great diagonal pass from Andrei Mironov and slot the puck home from a tight angle.
Spartak had a power play chance of its own late in the third period and carrying over to the start of overtime. However, Dynamo managed to kill Yegor Zaitsev’s penalty and then got the puck in the net early in the extras. Dmitrij Jaskin was the scorer, lifting a wrister over Hudacek’s shoulder at the second attempt. However, when he brought the puck into the Spartak zone he was skating backwards, prompting a video review to confirm there was no offside – thanks to a trailing stick on the blue line as the puck crossed into Red-and-White territory.
Dynamo moves on for another Moscow derby against CSKA in the second round; Spartak drops out in the first round for the third season in a row.