Two goals in nine seconds turned this game around for Avangard and sent Riga spinning to a heavy defeat.
The Latvians looked good in the first period, matching the Chernyshev Division in a competitive game and taking the lead after 16 minutes through Rihards Bukarts. A quick turnover sent the Dinamo forward into the Avangard zone and he wired a wrister into the far corner from the top of the right-hand circle.
But it all went wrong in the 27th minute. First, Reid Boucher arrived on the slot at just the right moment to tuck away a loose puck after Alexei Bereglazov brought it to the danger zone. Nine seconds later, Bereglazov had his second assist in short order when he sent Klim Kostin on the attack. The youngster skilfully evaded an opponent on the halfway line and burned through the defense to beat Janis Voris. Midway through the game, Kostin potted his second, moving on to eight points in his last three games.
Dinamo’s problems increased when Roberts Mamcics was ejected from the game for a head shot and Avangard scored twice on the power play. Boucher joined Kostin on two goals for the game, then Kirill Semyonov made it 5-1 at the start of the third period. Boucher thought he had a hat-trick in the 53rd minute after finishing a move that started with his interception of an attempted Riga clearance, but a video review ruled it out for interference on Voris. However, that was the only piece of good news for the visitor as the game ended in a comfortable home win.
Both of these teams are still working to confirm their playoff places, so it was no surprise that this proved to be a tight, tense encounter. However, with the game going to overtime, the opponents could take comfort in taking something to help move away from the dotted line that separates the top eight from the also rans.
Severstal, in seventh place at the start of play, knew that a win in regulation would lift it ahead of the Finns into fifth. And the visitor got the opening goal in the 14th minute when Joonas Nattinen’s rush ended with a shot that was too hot for Samuel Jukuri to handle. The rebound went to Igor Geraskin, who duly finished it off.
Jokerit’s problems continued when Alex Grant took a penalty, but the best chance of the power play went to the home team. Brian O’Neill hit the piping with a wrist shot that had Vladislav Podyapolsky beaten and Severstal struggled to create much danger with its man advantage.
Early in the second period, Jakub Krejcik tied the game with a powerful shot from a central position. However, Severstal continued to have a good share of the play, helped by two more power plays. The first of those ended in another near miss for the Finns, with Tommi Kivisto jumping out of the box in time to get through on goal before his rising shot clipped the top of the crossbar.
Neither team could produce a winner in the third period but Severstal took the verdict with its first meaningful play of the extras. Once again, Geraskin did the damage, this time racing onto a long pass and going one-on-one with Jukuri before putting the puck in the net. Today’s opponents are now locked on 62 points, six ahead of Spartak in ninth place. Jokerit retains fifth position by virtue of more wins in regulation time.